The Galway minor hurlers head to Croke Park this Sunday to take on Clare in the All-Ireland semi-final at 1.30pm. Mattie Murphy’s charges had a facile win over Antrim in the quarter-final, winning on a score-line of 8-26 to 0-12, and they know that next Sunday will be a giant step up in intensity and standard.
However it is a step for which they believe they are ready. Murphy, who has had tremendous success in coaching All-Ireland winning minor teams for his county over the years, is quietly confident that his charges can reach another decider: “We have worked hard all year and many of the lads have been there before so we are confident that they will be used to what is required on Sunday. Clare have some good players and they are very strong around the middle with Jamie Shanahan at centre-back, and Tony Kelly and Colm Galvin at midfield. If we compete well there, break-even and nullify O’Connell at centre forward we won’t be far away.”
Murphy and his selectors of Michael Fogarty, Michael Haverty, and Michael Flanagan will announce the team later in the week but the likelihood is that Padraic Brehony (Tynagh/Abbey-Duniry ) and Gerard Donoghue (Gort ) who were unavailable for the quarter-final game will be in the starting 15.
Darragh Burke (St Thomas ) who was injured against Antrim has had a pin put in his thumb and is out of contention. Players who impressed against Antrim included centre-forward Jonathon Glynn (Ardrahan ), Billy Lane (Clarinbridge ), Jack Carr who came on at half time and notched 3-2, and the full-back line of Padraic Mannion, Paul Killeen, and Cormac Diviney.
The team will be captained by Tynagh-Abbey-Duniry’s Shane Moloney who is in his third year at minor level and collected a winner’s medal with the 2009 team from corner forward. Murphy is a very astute judge of hurling and believes that this Galway panel will take stopping: “We have very good strength in depth and there is great competition for places which is a great thing. There will be some very disappointed young men who won’t be in the starting 15 when we announce the team, but we will need all the subs to be ready to come on and make a positive impact if called upon. It usually takes 20 players to win big games and the key thing here is that there is a Galway minor panel playing on All-Ireland final day in Croke Park.”
The minors have played Clare twice in challenges over the past few months and have held their own, and despite the bookies having Clare at 2/1 on and Galway at 15/8, the vibe from the Galway camp is positive. Murphy and his team are heading to Croke Park on Sunday with one intention, to win: “The four teams left at this stage are Dublin, Waterford, Clare, and Galway. We believe that we are well capable of beating any of them on our day. Clare represents a very tough challenge on Sunday and won’t be easily beaten. However if the lads perform to their potential and play as we know they can, we are in with a good shout.”