Limerick native Leo O’Connor guides Offaly to first Leinster U20 title since 2000

O’Connor has previous at this grade, guiding Limerick to a first Munster U21 title in nine years in the Gaelic Grounds in 2011.

After helping the Offaly minors end a 22-year wait for Leinster honour last year, Limerick native Leo O’Connor was at the helm last night as the Faithful County claimed a first U20 provincial triumph since 2000.

Stepping up to the U20 ranks after the heartbreak on missing out on the All-Ireland title to Tipperary last July, O’Connor’s youthful side edged Wexford 1-21 to 0-22 in a sold out Netwatch Cullen Park in Carlow.

The result also ensures their place in the All-Ireland final where they will meet Munster champions Cork.

Reflection on the win, the Limerick man was proud of his side who were reduced to 14-men when captain Charlie Mitchell was sent off.

“As I said last year, they are a special bunch and they have years of hurling ahead of them. The most important thing is to stay focused, keep grounded and take it one game at a time.

“We go again, we regroup. We have a recovery session tomorrow and away we go again.”

O’Connor has previous at this grade, guiding Limerick to a first Munster U21 title in nine years when the Kevin Downes captained side defeated Cork in the Gaelic Grounds in 2011, as he now adds a Leinster U20 title to that.

In Carlow, Adam Screeney, as he was for the minors last year under O’Connor, was the star of the show, clipping over 1-12, with just eight of that tally coming from placed balls.

It was a nip and tuck first half with Offaly finding the final three scores to take a 0-11 to 0-9 lead into the interval. Wexford drew level inside six minutes of the restart with captain Mitchell then receiving a second yellow card.

But Offaly didn’t panic and Screeney then gave them breathing room with a sublime goal with twenty to play after being set free by U20 All-Ireland football winner Cormac Egan.

Wexford did draw level approaching injury time but Screeney and Dan Ravenhill had crucial scores for O’Connor’s charges to see off the Yellowbellies and claim a memorable win.

They will now go on to face Cork in the decider on May 27, seeking to win a first ever title in their fourth final appearance.

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