Galway U21s readyto face highly-rated Kerry outfit

This Saturday afternoon at Cusack Park in Ennis (4.30pm ) the Galway U21 footballers, who defeated Sligo after extra-time to become Connacht champions, will take on the Munster champions Kerry in the All Ireland semi-final.

Kerry are a very highly rated squad built on the back of three All-Ireland winning minor panels.

Galway team manager Gerry Fahy acknowledges Kerry have an impressive squad at their disposal, but believes Galway also boast an exciting panel who have shown their mettle in wins over Leitrim, Mayo and Sligo.

"We are all good to go for Saturday and thankfully we have no injuries," he says. "We have a strong panel of young Galway men and all our subs who have come on in all our games have really made an impact, and we will need more of the same this weekend.

"It is almost a necessity now to use all the six subs in order to win tight games. The pace and physicality of modern Gaelic football has changed, and both players and the public have to adjust their thinking to games involving 21 players now, and not just the starting 15."

Galway will announce the team tonight (Thursday ) and there are a few big calls to be made considering how well some of the lads who came off the bench did against Sligo. Maigh Cuilinn's Seán Kelly an obvious case in point.

"Regardless of who starts and who finishes the game in a maroon jersey, the main thing is that they leave everything they have out on the field," says Fahy. "Kerry are good and we know that. However we are really looking forward to the challenge they represent, and we are not one bit afraid of it. Quite the opposite, as we are really looking forward to the game. Some players thrive in big game situations and we have plenty of lads on our panel in that category and Cusack Park is a super venue for the game, so it is all systems go."

Hot favourites

Kerry are raging hot favourites to reach the final after their demolition of Cork in the Munster final and it will take a serious performance from Galway to stop the green and gold underage bandwagon in its tracks.

Galway's defenders will have to be touch tight and players such as full-back Sean Andy O' Ceallaigh, and the half-back line of Kieran Molloy, Dylan McHugh and Cillian McDaid, will have to produce big displays.

Around the middle third Galway will be looking to team captain Michael Daly, who kicked two fine points for the seniors last Sunday, Peter Cooke, Colm Brennan and Céin Darcy to really work hard to inspire the team from the engine room.

Up front, two of last year's county minors, Robert Finnerty and Dessie Conneely, are likely to line out in the full-forward line and they would love to get one over on the Kingdom lads after suffering defeat at their hands last September.

Kilconly's Paul Mannion looked really lively in the first half against Mayo at full-forward and it would be a real positive if he could raise four or five flags this weekend too.

Based on Galway's hot and cold form against both Leitrim and Sligo, it is fair to say they will need to produce their best display of the season to take out Kerry on Saturday. That is not to say that they cannot do so, but the margin for errors and any lack of focus or concentration is non-existent.

Galway will have to start with all guns blazing up front and produce a performance of real intensity and determination if they are going to be in the final in two weeks time against either Donegal or Dublin.

Fográ: Galway supporters travelling to Ennis on Saturday should make sure to give themselves plenty of time for the trip. Parking near the pitch along with Saturday afternoon shopping traffic and parking can be difficult. Advice from locals is to take an extra 30 minutes after arriving in Ennis to get into the venue.

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