The Galway minor footballers start their quest for some silverware this Saturday at 7pm in Tuam Stadium when they face Sligo in the Connacht championship.
It promises to be a lively encounter and with no safety net – the losers are out of the championship – there should be no shortage of honest endeavour from both sides.
The minors are managed this year by Gerry Fahy along with his selectors, Vinny Jennings, David Morris, Lorcan O’ Callarain, and Tom Moran.
That management team has looked at more than 130 young Galway footballers over the past few months and put in a lot of training sessions, trial games, challenges, and league games in order to come up what they hope will be a successful formula for the 2009 championship.
Vinny Jennings, who is well known in Galway football circles and especially in the clubs of Salthill and Ballinasloe, is hopeful the team will rise to the challenge of getting to a Connacht semi-final this Saturday night;
“We have some really talented youngsters in the panel and we just hope now they will perform to their potential on Saturday evening,” he says.
“Championship football is all about the team that produces the goods on any given day. And as some of these lads will remember from last year’s defeat against Roscommon, if you lose your concentration at any stage, you can find yourself in serious trouble.”
Galway played Tyrone in Clones two weeks ago in a high-tempo challenge game and were pleased to compete with and defeat the current All-Ireland champions by a few points. It proved that on their day they can be a match for most teams. However they have to transfer that form into live championship action this weekend.
Jennings is confident that the ability is there to get over this fence, if all of the panel are focused on the task in hand.
“With so many talented players in our squad we are in no doubt that we develop into a very good side. But we have to get over this very dangerous hurdle on Saturday. We are in no way complacent and we are fully expecting a really tough battle to reach the next round.”
The side is captained from midfield by Corofin’s Ronan Steede and looks especially strong down the middle with Jonathan Duane and Brian Flaherty – two survivors from last year’s side - manning the number three and number six positions.
Steede is joined in the middle by Ronan O’Connell and there are high hopes that Killanin’s Patrick Sweeney and Eric Monaghan from Caherlistrane will cut loose and be able to drill a few holes in the Yeats’ rearguard.
Other players who come with high reputations and will be worth going to Tuam Stadium to see are Caherlistrane’s Shane Bohan at wing-back, Salthill’s Conor Halloran at number seven, and David Wynn from Moycullen at right-corner forward.
There is also a little bit of footballing nostalgia at right-half forward where Padraig Cunningham lines out. His father Pat Cunningham played for the county minors in 1975 and also won a few senior county championship medals with St Grellan’s in 1979 and 1980.
The bench contains some talented players too if they are required and players like Cathal Sweeney, Eanna Langan, and Daniel Mannion from Killererin will all do a good job if called on.
Try to make an effort to get to Tuam Stadium this Saturday for 7pm and who knows, it could be the start of a wonderful adventure like 2007.
The winners of this tie will not be in championship action again for six weeks, against Mayo, so that the Leaving Certificate can be completed.
Galway minors: Manus Breathnach (An Spideal ), Shane Coughlan (St James ), Jonathan Duane (St James ), Gary Sweeney (Mountbellew ), Shane Bohan (Caherlistrane ), Brian Flaherty (Monivae/Abbey ), Conor Halloran (Salthill ), Ronan Steede (Corofin ), Ronan O’Connell (St.James ), Padraig Cunningham (St Grellans ), Patrick Sweeney (Killanin ), Fiontain O’Curraoin (Micheal Breathnachs ), David Wynn (Moycullen ), Eric Monaghan (Caherlistrane ), John Ross Bodkin (Tuam Stars ).