Minors fail to make the grade
All Ireland MHC Final
By Colm Gannon, Croke Park.
Sunday's minor final is surely one for the record books, as a team that was beaten in championship action twice, still went on to win the All Ireland title. Waterford were beaten by Tipperary back in the Spring in the Munster championship but managed to come through the backdoor in the province and reach the Munster final where there were beaten by Limerick after a replay, but still had a path through to Sunday in front of them, which they took with open arms thanks to the All Ireland quarter-finals.
While it was the scenic route to take to the final, Galway can have no complaints about the result at the end of the day, where Séan Power's men were by far the better side for the majority of the game. Galway led only once in the game after a delicious sideline cut from Adrian Morrissey put them 0-4 to 0-3 up after 12 minutes and when it looked like they were going to push on after drawing the game level at 15 points each with 14 minutes left, it was Waterford who found the extra gear and drove home to victory. Patrick Curran's goal with four minutes left on the clock after he blocked down Darragh O'Donoghue's attempted clearance from a short puck-out put the tin hat on the game and ended whatever chance Mattie Murphy's men had of grabbing a goal and turning the game back in their favour.
Galway never got going early on and had to thank Cathal Tuohy for two fine saves in the first half and another early in the second for keeping them in the contest. Galway went in trailing by 0-12 to 0-9 at the break thanks to late rally of points from from Ronan O'Meara and a double from Darragh Dolan in the closing few minutes, but Waterford had played the superior hurling over the opening half an hour, with Galway failing to get the ball into their full forward line with Kevin Daly, Shane Bennett and Austin Gleeson shutting down the Galway attack throughout. Galway for their part had good defensive performances from Shane Cooney and Darragh O'Donoghue at the heart of their rearguard. The main man on the day in terms of the scoreboard was Patrick Curran for the victors who finished off the hour with a personal tally of 1-7.
The second half was two minutes old when Tuohy was called into action again pulling off a diving save from Stephen Bennett, Mark Kearney put the rebound over the bar to send Waterford four clear and they quickly followed up with Patrick Curran point and it looked like the game could be drifting away from Galway. But Murphy's men dug in and outscored Waterford by six points to one over the next ten minutes. Brian Molloy kicked things off with a brace of frees, Ronan O'Meara hit a dinger from well out the field and Brian Burke announced his introduction to the fray with a fine score to cut the gap to one point. Waterford responded with a Michael Kearney score, but Galway weren't done yet and Molloy nailed one from a placed ball and then won a break off the resulting puck-out to level the contest up as it approached the home straight.
But that was as good as it got for the Tribesmen as Waterford went to the well again and found that little bit extra you need in an All Ireland final and hit Galway for 1-4 without reply over the next ten minutes. Their run of scores was capped by Curran's goal, as Galway frantically tried to move the ball quickly out the field in search of their own three-pointer, only for Curran hit them with a sucker punch. From then on in was only a matter of counting down the clock as Waterford tagged on a few more points before the end. It wasn't to be for Mattie Murphy's men and Galway must wait until next year for a crack at claiming their tenth All Ireland minor title.
Galway:Cathal Tuohy; Maidhc Ó Conghaile, Darragh O’Donoghue, Michael Connelly; Sean Linnane, Shane Cooney (0-1, 1F), Richard Doyle; Eanna Burke, Darragh Dolan (0-3); Conor Whelan, Ronan O’Meara (0-4), Adrian Morrissey (0-1, 1 SL); Brian Molloy (0-5,4f)), Jack Hastings, Conor Shaughnessy.
Subs: Vincent Doyle for Darragh O'Donoghue (Blood sub 19 mins), Vincent Doyle for Richard Doyle (26 mins), Eamon Brannigan for Séan Linnane (HT), Brian Burke (0-1) for Conor Whelan (37 mins), Ronan Bellew for Jack Hastings (50 mins), Shane Burke for Éanna Burke (57 mins)
Waterford: Gavin Power; William Hahessey, Kevin Daly, Cian Leamy; Michéal Harney, Austin Gleeson (0-1,1f), Shane Bennett; Mark O’Brien, Tom Devine (0-1); Stephen Bennett (0-4), DJ Foran (0-1), Michael Kearney (0-4); Adam Farrell, Patrick Curran (1-7, 4f 1 65), Colm Roche (0-3).
Subs: Cormac Curran for DJ Foran (37 mins), Connor Gleeson for Adam Farrell (44 mins), Paul O'Connor for Shane Bennett (60 mins), Sam O'Neill for William Hahessy (60 mins)
Referee: Cathal McAllister (Cork)