Galway to face Waterford in All-Ireland U21 final

Galway's Kevin McHugo and Dublin's Eoghan Conroy in action during the U21 All Ireland Hurling semi final at Semple Stadium, Thurles.  
Photograph: Mike Shaughnessy

Galway's Kevin McHugo and Dublin's Eoghan Conroy in action during the U21 All Ireland Hurling semi final at Semple Stadium, Thurles. Photograph: Mike Shaughnessy

The Galway U21s, under the guidance of former All-Ireland winning camogie manager Tony Ward, will face a strong, powerful, and heavily fancied Waterford on Saturday September 10 following their 0-21 to 0-19 win over Dublin in extra-time.

Galway had not won an All-Ireland U21 semi-final in five years and it took them all their time to win this one too.

The men in maroon trailed by 0-10 to 0-7 at half time, but with the backing of a strong breeze in the second half, they hit six unanswered points, and the feeling was they would power on to a handy enough win.

Man of the match Brian Molloy (0-2 ), Darragh Dolan, Conor Whelan and Thomas Monaghan all raised white flags as Galway surged ahead.

Perhaps as a consequence of playing in only their first competitive fixture of the summer, Ward's charges did not push on and Dublin rallied to take the lead again.

Senior star Conor Whelan levelled the game and a huge free from Brian Molloy looked to be the winner. However, the Dubs levelled the game in normal time and it took a few more placed balls from team captain Molloy to edge them into the final in the second period of extra time.

Team manager Tony Ward was delighted with the win.

“We are absolutely thrilled with the result. It has been a long time coming for this team," he said.

“Some of these lads had played three years with the team and had never got a win. It is nice to get the monkey off the back. For a team coming in from the cold for their first championship match, I thought they really fought hard. When it went into extra-time, I was a bit worried, but they showed great character."

Ward singled out centre-forward and team captain Brian Molloy for special praise.

“He came back deep in extra-time and won a lot of ball in front of his own goals and then brought it intelligently down the field. When you see that, you think we are not going to be beaten. He hit two brilliant frees in the second-half of extra-time. They were crucial. He played a captain’s part.”

Unfortunately a major negative from the game is that Conor Whelan finished with his arm in a sling after dislocating his shoulder in the game, and he will face a race now to try to be match fit for the final. The Kinvara man scored 0-2 in the game and he would be a colossal loss if unavailable for the final, which must be a real possibility at this juncture.

Galway have not won the All-Ireland at this grade since 2011 and they will know they will face a really tough job to take out a Waterford side littered with senior stars who will be savage keen to get an All Ireland medal at this grade after their heartbreak against Kilkenny in the senior semi-finals.

Scorers for Galway:

B Molloy (0-10, 0-5 frees, 0-1 ’65 ); D Nevin (0-1 sc ), T Monaghan (0-3 each ); C Whelan, E Burke (0-2 each ); D Dolan (0-1 ).

Galway: C Tuohy (Tommy Larkins ), C Jennings (Loughrea ), D O’Donoghue (Kilnadeema Leitrim ), D Cronin (Cappataggle ), F Burke (St Thomas ), S Cooney (St Thomas ), S Loftus (Turloughmore ), D Dolan (Cappataggle ), D Nevin (Cappataggle ); K McHugo (Tommy Larkins ), B Molloy (Kilnadeema Leitrim ), É Burke (St Thomas ), T Monaghan (Craughwell ), C Whelan (Kinvara ), C Burke (Athenry ).

Subs used: B Concannon (Killimordaly ) for McHugo (39 mins ); J Mannion (Cappataggle ) for C Burke (45 ); E Brannigan (Rahoon/Newcastle ) for Dolan (52 ); S Linnane (Turloughmore ) for Whelan (64, inj ); J Grealish (Gort ) for Mannion (70 ); A Morrissey (Liam Mellows ) for Monaghan (75 ).

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