The Galway minor footballers are strong outsiders in Sunday's All Ireland final in Croke Park (1pm ) as they take on a Kerry minor team seeking an historic five-in-a-row of minor titles for the county.
Galway, under the guidance of Donal Ó Fátharta and selectors Cosmos Gilmore, Enda Daly and Des Sheeran, are in the final on the back of a sterling display against Meath in the semi-final when they came from 2-04 to 0-6 down at half-time to win by 3-13 to 2-09.
Their three well-taken goals in the second half came from Salthill/Knocknacarra's Eoghan Tinney, substitute Oisín McCormack from Ballinalsoe, and Tony Gill (Corofin ).
Galway were driven on in that second half by some particularly fine displays from midfielders Paul Kelly and team captain Conor Raftery. Half-backs Tony Gill and Cathal Sweeney also caught the eye, with Sweeney notching three lovely points in the first half from play
Galway need good start
It was a super 30 minutes of football from Galway in that second half, and they outscored the Royals by 3-7 to 0-5, but they will know they need to bring their A game from the start this weekend if they are going to derail the Kingdom.
Team manager Donal Ó Fátharta from An Spidéal is understandably pleased his charges will get to play an All-Ireland minor final at Croke Park and take on a team of Kerry’s ability.
"We are pleased to be in the final this weekend but we are realistic," he says. "We know we need to produce a really good team performance to beat Kerry. That said, it took them a long time to get past Monaghan in the semi-final (1-16 to 2-11 ) and hopefully we can get in for a goal or two.
“Our lads have worked really hard over the past seven or eight months and have done everything we have asked of them. We are confident they will go out and produce a big display and the lads who come in off the bench will also make a big impact."
Ó Fátharta says the subs have been doing well all year and Galway especially need that to continue in Sunday's final.
"The squad is genuinely looking forward to the challenge they face in a few days' time and hopefully they will give the Galway supporters something to cheer about. We are going to Croke Park to deliver a very strong performance and we will see where that brings us.”
The Galway team will not be announced until later in the week, and there are a few niggles that need to be assessed before the starting XV is finalised with the possibility of one or two changes to the starting team from the semi-final.
Kerry, too, have some high quality players in their ranks with big reputations already generated, such as centre-forward and team captain Paul O’ Shea from Kilcummin.
Freetakers Dylan Geaney and wing-forward Paul Walsh hit 0-8 (4fs ) between them against Monaghan and the Galway defenders will have to keep fouls to the bare minimum.
Their midfield pairing of Darragh Rahilly (Rathmore ) and Darragh Lyne (Killarney Legion ) also come with big ratings, and their battle with Paul Kelly and Galway team captain Conor Raftery will have a big bearing on the outcome of the game.
Galway are not given much chance at a national level, but this group are nothing if not resilient as they showed in their victory over Clare in the quarter-final. If they gel and really go for it, who knows the outcome?
Galway team that started the semi-final v Meath: D Halloran, E Walsh, S Black, C Deane, R Monaghan, T Gill, C Sweeney, P Kelly, C Raftery (cpt ), O Gormley, A Halloran, L Judge, E Tinney, D Cox, M Cooley.