The Galway minor footballers will head to Dublin this Saturday for theAll-Ireland semi-final on Sunday at Croke Park (1.30pm ) knowing most people expect it to be a very tough day at football headquarters.
Dessie Farrell’s Dublin outfit are boiling hot favourites to defeat Galway. Odds for Tommie Joyce’s team at 4/1; Dublin are 1/5.
Even on the handicap betting, the Tribesmen are 5/6 at + 5 which tells you what the bookmakers expect to happen.
Farrell, who is also the Gaelic Players’ Association president and is now stationed in Croke Park in his day job, has described his panel as one of the best the capital has had at this age group.
They have beaten Longford, Meath, Kildare and Cork comprehensively to reach this stage of the competition and have looked very comfortable in all those victories.
Galway will announce their starting line-up tonight (Thursday ) and despite what the bookies may think, they are not travelling up to be cannon fodder for anyone.
Team manager Tommie Joyce knows Galway are huge underdogs, but he is confident his team will come out with all guns blazing.
“Training has been going very very well over the past few weeks and the mood is very positive in our camp. Thankfully we are injury free. Since the Cavan game some lads have really come into good form and are pushing hard for places on the starting 15 and on the togging 24. Competition for places is a great thing and we are not going up to Dublin to make up the numbers.”
Joyce, who won twoAll-Ireland senior medals with Galway in 1998 and 2001, knows his side will have to produce a far better performance than anything it has done heretofore.
“We saw Dublin first hand in theAll-Ireland quarter final against Cork and we know that they are a very good team with some really powerful players. Obviously we will have to be at our very best to beat them. But we have some tremendous leaders in our team like James Shaughnessy (cpt ), Ian Burke, Conor Cunningham, Eoin Walsh, Adrian Nolan, Seán Moran and Shane Maughan to name just a few. Those guys will relish the chance to play in Croke park in front of a big crowd. Other lads like Conor Rabbitte and Shane Walsh have produced impressive displays in Croke Park before and can do so again this weekend. We are looking forward to the game and we will be giving it our very best shot.”
Sunday’s double header with Donegal and the Dublin seniors is already a complete sell-out and with a capacity of 84,000 there should be a massive crowd in attendance for the second half of the minor game.
Galway supporters will be in a complete minority, but Joyce is hopeful some of that pressure may transfer onto the Dublin youngsters.
“We have prepared very well for the game and we have some terrific young footballers in our squad. There is no real pressure on us as we have been written off by most pundits and Dublin are ‘dead certainties’ in many people’s eyes. Perhaps if things are not going according to plan for them and we really put it up to them, they may find that hard to deal with. They have not really been tested yet this year and if we can put some doubts in their minds, who knows what may happen? We have a lot of belief in our players, and if they go out and perform as we know they are capable of, we are hopeful of surprising a lot of people.”