Galway go down to impressive Dublin in the last U21 final

Micheál Daly of Galway in action from the EirGrid GAA Football All Ireland Under 21 Championship final against Dublin in Tullamore on Saturday. 
				Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Micheál Daly of Galway in action from the EirGrid GAA Football All Ireland Under 21 Championship final against Dublin in Tullamore on Saturday. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Dublin became U21 All Ireland champions for the last time at the expense of Galway when the two sides met in O'Connor Park, Tullamore on Saturday.

Unfortunately for Galway and the large gang of travelling supporters, the team never got to the pace of the game and never realistically looked like they were going to beat Dublin.

The victors, under the guidance of Dessie Farrell, were full value for their 2-13 to 2-07 victory over a Galway side that failed to recreate the magic and flow they had produced in their win over Kerry in the semi-final.

From the start, Galway found it almost impossible to get past Dublin's sweeper system that saw them with an extra-man at the back which stopped any quality supply going into Robert Finnerty, Dessie Conneely and Eoin Finnerty.

Dublin's Eoin Murchan did a really splendid man-marking job on Galway captain Michael Daly and he stuck to him like a limpet for the entire contest. By nullifying the Mountbellew danger man, one of Galway's key scoring threats was gone and it was a top class move by the Dublin management team.

Perhaps the U21 management team could have relocated Daly to full-forward for a while in the first half when they had wind advantage and tried to exploit his significant height advantage over Murchan, or put Peter Cooke in on the edge of the square and gone route one for a few minutes.

Dublin’s third

Last weekend's success marked Dublin’s third title win in six years in the U21 grade - and the last as the competition moves to U20 next season. Some of this group will no doubt be seen in the Dublin senior colours over the coming years.

Ironically Darren Gavin could be one of those who might break into the senior ranks as he played a superb game on his introduction after only 12 minutes, and was many people's choice as Dublin’s man of the match.

Darren's dad Fergal was a top midfielder for many years for Mountbellew/Moylough and was a key member of the Galway panel that won the 1998 All-Ireland. Unfortunately there is probably no chance of the Gavin relocating west at this juncture.

Gavin junior has the same style of play and build as All-Star midfielder Brian Fenton and is a player to admire in full flow.

Galway were only a point behind at the small whistle, thanks to a few excellent interventions by goalkeeper Ronan Ó Beoláin. However a blistering third quarter period by the Dublin youngsters, when they hit 1-4 without reply, proved crucial in enabling them to pull clear.

Dual star Con O’Callaghan grabbed their vital first goal early in the second half and the hugely athletic Aaron Byrne lashed home a second which put them in a super position to win the game.

Galway showed great spirit and never threw in the towel with Cillian McDaid, who had a marvellous second half, and substitute Colm Brennan, both getting in for goals.

Powerful display

Full-back Séan Andy Ó Ceallaigh had a mighty game and was inspirational at times. The way he won ball, both high and low, and drove out from the defence with real power and determination, was super to watch.

The Leitir Mór man had an outstanding game and did not deserve to be on the losing side. He would surely be drafted into Kevin Walsh's senior panel for the upcoming senior championship if he were in the country for the summer. However, the word in McHale Park on Sunday afternoon, was that he was due to go Stateside early this week for the coming months which would be a pity, but understandable.

While Galway did bring it back to 1-10 to 1-06 with 10 minutes left on the clock and they hit the butt of the Dublin post, the more composed and efficient team were wearing sky blue.

Galway team manager Gerry Fahy was gracious in defeat and predicted that some of his charges would don the Galway senior jersey in the future.

“The lads have learned a lot this year. I've no doubt they'll come back stronger, and better players, as that's the character they have. I don't have any doubt that a lot of them will play senior for Galway and will win big matches for Galway in the future.”

Scorers for Galway: C McDaid 1-1, C Brennan 1-0, Peter Cooke (0-1f ), K Molloy, M Daly, P Mannion, E Finnerty, C Brady 0-1 each.

Galway: R Ó Beoláin (Mícheál Breathnach ), L Kelly (An Spidéal ), Sean Andy Ó Ceallaigh (Leitir Mor ), R Greene (Killannin ), C McDaid (Monivea-Abbey ), D McHugh (Corofin ), K Molloy (Corofin ), P Cooke (Moycullen ), C D’Arcy (Caherlistrane ), P Mannion (Kilconly ), M Daly (Cpt ) (Mountbellew-Moylough ), S Kelly (Moycullen ), R Finnerty (Salthill-Knocknacarra ), E Finnerty (Mountbellew-Moylough ), D Conneely (Moycullen ). Subs used: C Brady (Corofin ), C Brennan (Aran Islands ), M Boyle (Killererin ), E Lee (Oughterard ), A Ó Laoi (An Spidéal ), P Ó Curraoin (An Spidéal ).

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