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Jamie Wall (right) celebrating Cork's 2010 Munster minor final win with his team-mates.
Jamie Wall (right) celebrating Cork's 2010 Munster minor final win with his team-mates.
Image: INPHO

'They were such major experiences for me. Your minor days never leave you'

Jamie Wall looks back on his days playing dual for Cork.
Sep 14th 2017, 4:47 PM 8,787 0

SEVEN YEARS ON and the memory of All-Ireland final day does not fade.

That 2010 experience was a novel one for Jamie Wall and his Cork minor colleagues, youngsters featuring on the biggest afternoon of the Gaelic football calendar for the first time.

When the final whistle sounded they were one point adrift of Tyrone – but the defeat is the not the main takeaway from 19 September 2010.

“I remember when we started that game the place was half-full and there was just pockets of supporters there. But then as we came out for the second half, the place had doubled in size with the senior game approaching – nearly 70,000 people packed in as our match was finishing up.

“It was just an unbelievable experience. I played in an All-Ireland U21 football final and a Fitzgibbon Cup final but short of playing in a senior final, you’ll never experience something like that.

“For minor players to be in an All-Ireland final when your county is involved in the senior game is just really special. It’s something that will be with me forever.

Cork team Jamie Wall (second back left) before the 2010 All-Ireland minor final. Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

“I know we lost and there was disappointment over that for a long time. Croke Park used to play Beautiful Day at the final whistle after matches and for a couple of years after I couldn’t stomach hearing that song, it would just remind me of losing to Tyrone.

“But looking back now – to have got the chance to play there, regardless of the fact we lost the game, it was still one of the best days of my life.”

Wall juggled both codes that summer. He had spent some time in 2009 with the Cork minor hurlers before in 2010 playing for both county sides.

“I did my Leaving Cert in 2011 so I think not having that as well to worry about in 2010 was a big help and allowed me to be a dual minor.

“There were five or six of us on both panels. We trained Monday with the hurlers, Tuesday with the footballers and Thursday then was dependent on whichever team had championship coming up.”

“I loved playing dual for Cork. I remember Cubby (Brian Cuthbert, Cork minor manager) saying at the start of the year that he loved to see lads playing dual as big games at a high standard were good for players.”

Cork’s minor hurling championship campaign ground to a halt by early July but the football side kept progressing. Wall had been an unused substitute for the opening football game against Clare but got into the starting side for the semi-final against Tipperary and held on to start wing-back against Kerry on Munster final day.

“It was only my second time ever playing football for Cork that day. The Tipp match had been my first and I hadn’t made the younger underage sides.

“To win down in Killarney on Munster final day was an amazing experience. It’s such a great venue and we’re still the most recent Cork team to win down there against Kerry.

“I remember that game so clearly. It was a brutal match really, we only won by a point. Towards the end Tadhg Morley came on and I was marking him, he was carrying the ball, I tackled him and the referee fell on my side awarding a free for over-carrying.

“The Kerry crowd starting booing the ref and I was thinking this is an unreal atmosphere. I was only talking recently about it to Alan Cronin from that team, we were saying how that’s your first real taste of inter-county.

“The other big game that year was the semi-final against Galway. It was a spectacular win, high scoring and a massive comeback. I’d been taken off at half-time against Armagh in the quarter-final so to come back and win the semi-final and get a score in Croke Park meant a lot personally.”

Thomas Flynn lies dejected as Jamie Wall, Jamie Burns and Luke O'Connolly celebrate Cork players celebrating their 2010 All-Ireland minor semi-final victory. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Wall would go to shine for Cork at U21 football level, winning Munster titles for the next three seasons. In June 2014 his life was changed when an abscess developed on his spine and he spent eight months in the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire.

His interest has never wavered in GAA since, he has gone into management and was at the helm when Mary Immaculate College won the Fitzgibbon Cup last spring.

Jamie Wall and Charles Dwyer after the game Jamie Wall with IT Carlow's Charles Dwyer after last spring's final in Pearse Stadium. Source: Tom Beary/INPHO

The memories of that minor summer in 2010 still shine brightly and he takes pride at seeing how those he crossed paths with then have subsequently progressed.

“It means a lot. I see someone like Damien Cahalane from our Cork team who went on this year to have a massive summer with the senior hurlers.

“Some lads don’t go on to play senior and obviously I have my own situation in that regard. But I get a kick out of seeing lads off that Galway team like Tom Flynn or someone from Tyrone like Ronan O’Neill, and how they’ve developed.

“It’s the same with any player you’ve played with. I was friendly with Brian O’Halloran in college and it was great to see him scoring a point for Waterford in the All-Ireland final.

“You don’t forget the names from your minor year. There is always this unspoken affinity with guys that you played with or against them. Someone like Tadhg Morley is now centre-back for the Kerry senior side.

“They were such major experiences for me, your minor days never leave you. I take a lot of satisfaction and appreciation from them now.”

Know some other talented minor players in need of recognition? This year Electric Ireland have launched the inaugural GAA Minor Star awards. You can cast your ballot every week on Electric Ireland’s Facebook page, and get involved in the conversation through #GAAThisIsMajor.

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