Minors power past Wexford and set up semi-final with Tipperary
Sean Sweeney, left, and Paul Killeen, Galway, hone in on Wexford's Donal Shanley during their comprehensive victory in the Electric Ireland GAA Hurling Minor Championship quarter-final at Tullamore last weekend. Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
By Ray Silke
Following last Saturday’s impressive 4-20 to 2-11 victory over Wexford in O’Connor park, the Galway minor hurlers will face Tipperary at Croke Park in two week’s time in the All-Ireland semi-final.
While pleased with last weekend’s win, Galway manager Mattie Murphy knows very well not to read too much into a facile win at this stage of the competition. And he acknowledged that the upcoming clash with Tipp on August 19 will be a big step up in quality and intensity.
“We are looking down the road now to the semi-final. We have a serious All-Ireland semi-final in a fortnight’s time against a very highly rated Tipp team. They will be favourites in that game, and they deserve to be. They won the Nenagh Co-op (U-16) two years ago very handsomely. The Galway lads were at the end of a serious hiding that day. We are under no illusions.”
Looking back to last Saturday in Tullamore, once Galway got going they were far too good for a Wexford side managed by Martin Storey.
The Galway youngsters started in lightning fashion and rocked their opponents with two early goals. According to Murphy, that early start was the key to his team having an easy enough championship opener.
"We got the start that you would dream about. Once we got the 2-4 on the board, it was always going to be an uphill battle for Wexford. Minors are funny animals in that they can drop their heads easy enough,” he said.
"We were 16 points up at half-time and that is not a true reflection of where Wexford are at. I have sympathy for them because they are a good bit better than that. When I was playing underage hurling for Galway that is where we were at very often."
Galway’s quick-fire goals came from Gort’s Michael Mullins following good work from Ronan O’Meara and Darragh Dolan at centre forward. Mullins turned provider a few minutes later for Dolan to whip home a splendid goal and Murphy was delighted with the vision his attackers showed as they accumulated a mammoth 2-15 to 0-5 lead at half time.
"I think that we were lucky enough with the first two goals that the right lads got the ball in the right positions. Sometimes you might get a lad in a position and he might suffer from what I call tunnel vision. I think that a lot of our lads have great lateral vision in that they can see what is going on around them.”
Murphy, who is joined on the management team by Michael Haverty, Michael Flanagan and Michael Fogarty, was pleased to have got their championship campaign off to good start and he also acknowledged that the management team found it very difficult to finalise their starting 15 and the 24 players to tog.
“We had a very hard job to name 24. We left [out] a few very good quality hurlers and that is the reality of the situation. Galway is going through a period at the moment where there is a lot of quality coming through at underage level. That probably wasn’t always the case and it probably won’t always be the case. We may as well make hay while we have it.”
"You never really know what they are like until the first day out. That is the bottom line. Until you play a game you are in trouble no matter what kind of a game it is. The next day you could turn around and Tipp could get a run on us. Minors being minors, you wouldn’t know what could happen. It happened us before. We will be on our guard anyway. We are in a semi-final and that is the main thing,” he said.
Galway: Maidhc Ó Conghaile (Micheál Breathnach), Darragh O’Donoghue (Killnadeema/ Leitrim), Paul Killeen (Cpt) (TAD), Barry Keane (Clarinbridge) Shane Caufield (Kilconieron), Seán Sweeney (Loughrea), Shane Cooney (St. Thomas), Brian Murtagh (Ardrahan), Cathal Mannion (Ahascragh/Fohenagh), Jason Flynn (Tommie Larkins), Darragh Dolan (Cappataggle), Adrian Morrissey (Liam Mellowes), Ronan O’Meara (Portumna), Michael Mullins (Gort), Brian Molloy (Killnadeema/Leitrim).
Subs: Seán Collins for Murtagh (48), Aidan Higgins for Morrissey (50), Peter English for Dolan (51), Luke Cosgrove for Sweeney (52), Cillín Howe for Molloy (60).
Galway scorers: A Morrissey, D Dolan, J Flynn 1-2 each, R O’Meara 0-5, M Mullins 1-1, B Molloy 0-3 (2fs), C Mannion, S Caufield 0-2 each, B Murtagh (0-1).