Dónál Ó’Fatharta will lead his young charges into an All-Ireland u20 final this Saturday afternoon against Dublin in what will be a curtain raiser to the senior final between Mayo and Dublin. (2.15pm throw-in )
It is a fantastic opportunity for these young men to add a Celtic cross to their Connacht medals already claimed this year. It would be a massive boost to Galway football if this team could get over the line in what has been a disappointing year for Galway football in general.
With many supremely talented youngsters littered among this u20 side, the hope would be that the experience and taste of success would drive them on to achieve the same feat at senior level.
Many of these players have the experience of losing an All-Ireland final. Last year a number of players, under the stewardship of Dónál Ó’Fatharta, were a part of the sickening extra time defeat to Cork in the All-Ireland minor final. Hopefully the likes of Tomo Culhane and Johnny McGrath will have taken some learnings from that defeat which they can bring into Saturday’s game and aid others in the preparation of the game.
Galway enter Saturday’s game as slight underdogs with the bookmakers but everyone is aware at this age, in an All-Ireland final, it is a fifty-fifty contest.
Tom Gray’s Dublin were impressive in their comeback against Tyrone in the semi-final back in October, which the Galway management team will have analysed in depth repeatedly over the lockdown.
Gray was in charge of Dublin last year when his team beat a Padraic Joyce-led Galway team in the semi-final. On that particular day, Ciaran Archer of the St Maur’s club was deadly up front. Archer, last year’s u20 player of the year, is still of age to play this year and will require close attention from the Galway full-back line. Jack Glynn, team captain and from the Claregalway club, seems bested suited to pick him up.
For Galway’s semi final win over Kerry, they were missing a number of crucial starting players due to covid protocols. Cathal Sweeney, Tomo Culhane, Paul Kelly and James McLaughlin were all absent for the Kerry encounter. The latter however will miss out on Saturday due to a serious knee injury.
Both Paul Kelly and Sweeney were part of Padraic Joyce’s championship training panel with the former claiming a starting place at wing-forward. Despite these players returning, there is still a major selection headache for Ducky as their replacements Cian Hernon, Jack Kirrane and Patrick Kelly were among Galway’s best performers on the day.
Hernon in particular was excellent, as he claimed the man of the match award. The players and management team will be reliant on the depth of the squad to get Galway over the line. It is sure to be a closely-fought encounter between two sets of gifted players and hopefully the Tribesmen will prevail.
Last Saturday marked the beginning of the Connacht minor championship as Galway overcame Leitrim on a final scoreline of 2-17 to 0-12 points. Galway outscored Leitrim by 1-6 to 0-01 in the final quarter to pull away from their opponents.
This was despite Galway being reduced to 14 men in the 43rd minute due to an Adam Tierney red card for two yellows. Cillian Ó’Curraoin top scored for Galway notching 2-3 for himself. Galway will now go on to play Roscommon in a Connacht semi-final this Friday. The game will take place in Bekan with throw in at 7.30pm.