Minors aim to clinch third title in four years

First up and into the fray next Sunday on All Ireland hurling final day at Croke Park are the Galway minors who take on Kilkenny (1pm ).

Jeffrey Lynskey is the bainisteoir at this level, and he has been a very successful manager in his four year tenure to date.

On Sunday he is hoping his current charges (U17s ) can add another title to the ones annexed in 2015 and 2017 under his guidance.

This weekend Galway will be aiming to collect the county's 12th title in all - the first won by Galway was in 1983 with Anthony Cunningham the team captain.

Galway are led into action by team captain and centre-back Seán Henry (Castlegar ), and he is expected to be joined in the half-back line by Shane Quirke (Athenry ) and Evan Duggan (St Thomas ).

Behind them and between the sticks is Athenry's Patrick Rabbitte, who is an accomplished goalkeeper.

Full-back Shane Jennings did very well against Dublin's danger man in the semi-final. In that semi-final he was flanked by Michael Flynn (Ballygar ) and Oisin Salmon (Clarinbridge ).

The midfield duo against Dublin in the semi-final, which Galway won well (3-22 to 0-16 ) was Gort's Jason O’Donoghue who had a powerful game and Oisín Flannery (St Thomas ).

Annaghdown's Diarmuid Kilcommins, who is a strong runner and ball winner, and Adam Brett (Killimordaly ) have also caught the eye in the half-forward line.

Donal Ó Shea is a lovely free-taker

Salthill/Knocknacarra's Donal Ó Shea lines out at full-forward and is an able free-taker. The Coláiste Na Coiribe student has been in super form from placed balls, hitting 0-12 (0-11fs, 0-1 65 ) against Dublin in the semi-final.

Corner forward Dean Reilly (Pádraig Pearses ) is also an exciting prospect and he has the skills set to do damage if given supply. He hit 1-03 in the semi-final win and has been lively all season.

Manager Jeffrey Lynskey is both proud and protective of the young men who will take the field in three days, speaking highly of their work-rate and conviction.

"We have a great group of very young men in our squad and they have done anything we have asked of them. They are all 17 or under and they are very ambitious hurlers which is good to see. We have played Kilkenny already this year in the round robin and they are a good side (Galway won on a scoreline of 1-21 to 2-11 ). We are looking forward to the challenge that they will pose us in the final.

"What we do at this grade is hopefully a stepping stone for the county U20s and seniors over the next few years.

"Our approach in the minor set-up is based on the fact that we believe it is about the overall development of the player and the individual. You are looking at a holistic approach - both from an educational perspective, and in other aspects of life as well as on the hurling side. We want the players to go back to their clubs, schools, communities and families after their time with us and add value to what is going on around them."

Lads looking forward to going to Dublin

"When you go to Croke Park you need speed and power and thankfully we have both of those assets in our panel. We have been focussing on Kilkenny over the past few weeks," Lynskey says.

"We believe Croke Park is our stage. We have tradition and legacy in this grade and it is something that does not phase us. Heading up to Dublin is something the lads look forward to.

"This week is about keeping a lot of normality for the player and while next Sunday is a wonderful day for their families, schools and clubs, there is a game of hurling to be played.

"Our philosophy is about trying to create the right environment for all the players on our panel and to foster their love of the game.

"We are in a final now and obviously we want to win it. However, along the way we believe all our panel have improved in different ways and that the development of the lads on our panel as both hurlers and people is the journey we are on."

Winning not the most important thing

Lynskey believes winning at this age group is important, but it is not the most important thing. Developing players, making good friends and improving players in a rounded way for Galway, their clubs, and themselves is the overall aim.

"Minor hurling is important," he says, "But it is not the be-all and end-all for these guys. Life goes on after this Sunday regardless of the performance or result and they need to know that. We want our players on the squad to know that while the individual is important, the overall team is what matters most. The collective and common good is what matters."

Lynskey is especially pleased with the way the panel have gelled and worked over the past few games.

"We learnt a lot over the past few years and hopefully we know the pitfalls from those campaigns at this stage. The fact that the seniors are there on Sunday too is great and it would be great to get a big Galway crowd in as early possible so the team can feed off that energy and the stage itself.

"If the lads embrace the day, enjoy it, and go out and play to their best and produce a good performance we will be happy. If they do that, the result will look after itself. We know that from experience and we have told the lads just to focus on their performance and the rest will take care of itself."

Limerick's Johnny Murphy will referee the game on Sunday.


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