Minors have momentum after toppling Kerry to claim All-Ireland crown

 Manager Donal O’Fatharta believes development at minor age is as important as winning.

Manager Donal O’Fatharta believes development at minor age is as important as winning.

The Galway minor footballers face Cork this Sunday in the All-Ireland final in Croke Park in what is the curtainraiser to the senior match between Dublin and Kerry. Throw-in for the game is at 1pm.

Galway are looking to lift this trophy for the first time since Galway senior stalwart Paul Conroy captained Galway in 2007. Since then two finals have been lost, both to Kerry in 2016 and last year, but already this season Galway have overcome its Kingdom hoodoo and the odds when winning by the minimum three weeks ago against the reigning champions.

In what has been a highly competitive championship, interestingly the final features two teams which lost their provincial finals.

Cork lost to Kerry in the Munster final, but have since beaten Monaghan and Mayo to reach the final. Galway lost out to Mayo in the Connacht final, but saw off the challenge of Leinster champions Kildare and then Kerry.

Cork will be looking to continue the football revival in the county which saw their senior team progress to the super 8s and their excellent U20 team triumph over Dublin in the All-Ireland final. There is a similar look to this Cork minor team with a massive physicality and appetite for work prominent throughout.

Lessons learned

Galway minor manager Dónal Ó’Fatharta will be hoping to have learned some lessons from last year's final defeat and it should give them an added edge.

Some players who featured in the final last year are Donie Halleran, Daniel Cox and Tomo Culhane, and these players must use their experience of the occasion and hurt from the last year's defeat to help guide their side to victory.

There are no real selection dilemmas facing Ó’Fatharta with each of the starters playing a key role against Kerry.

In goal Donie Halleran looked assured and demonstrated his exceptional shot-stopping ability with a super save in the first half when Kerry had Galway under massive pressure.

In the full-back line young Johnny McGrath from Caherlistrane, who is also their captain, produced an exceptional display against Kerry, and he will be hoping for more of the same on the big day.

Next to him at full back Ruairi King has been impressive throughout the campaign with his driving runs from the back being a joy to watch.

At centre back Ethan Fiorentini looks a real find for the future. His ferocious tackling and work-rate has dug his side out of a hole many times this year.

Midfielder James Mcloughlin is another player to watch. He looks to be an all-rounder with impressive displays of fielding, passing and point-taking throughout the summer.

Match winners

Galway have a number of match winners in the forwards. Tomo Culhane has top-scored for Galway all summer and has kicked some massive scores from play while being always reliable on the frees.

Inside forward from Claregalway Nathan Grainger struggled last time out against Kerry, but one would imagine that was just an off day as his speed has caused every other defence serious problems.

It will be interesting to see what role wing forward Dylan Brady plays, as he has often been deployed as a sweeper in earlier games, but excelled going forward in the semi-final, kicking two massive scores when they were desperately required.

Warren Seoige and Daniel Cox, who puts in a massive amount of dirty work which sometimes goes under the radar, will also pose a serious threat to the Cork defenders.

The young Tribesmen will face into Sunday's game with the favourites tag having dumped six-in-a-row chasing Kerry out of the competition, but there is no doubt it will be a close encounter.

If Galway stick to the gameplan which management will have astutely prepared, they should have enough to get over the line and bring home the Tom Markham Cup for the first time in 12 years and a seventh overall.


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