Galway u-21 hurling boss Anthony Cunningham knows what it is like to be defeated in an All Ireland final at this level after last year’s mauling at the hands of Tipperary.
However his panel now have an opportunity to get their hands on the title in 2011 when they face Dublin in two weeks (Saturday September 10 ) after their very impressive win over Limerick in Thurles last Saturday evening.
Cunningham was understandably delighted with his team’s performance and victory.
"It was a great performance and we’re delighted to get over the line. It was very pleasing how we recovered from setbacks. I thought the sending-off was a bit harsh decision - as was the decision to throw the ball in as the referee thought we had time wasted near the end taking a free. But that happens in matches. The guys worked very hard and we’re really thrilled."
Niall Burke, who was Man of the Match in the 2009 All Ireland minor final, was the scoring star for Galway with seven points from play, including five in the first half,
"Niall Burke had a terrific game all through," says Cunningham. "He is a very good player, is underage next year, and has a bright future. But we had outstanding performances all over the field and we have excellent players right through our panel. This win will bring these lads on. We need to keep developing these players. That’s what Galway hurling needs, a lot of development."
Galway will now face Dublin in both the All Ireland minor and u-21 deciders and Cunningham warned of the danger posed by Dublin in both finals:
"We're up against a Dublin set-up on the crest of a wave. They will be two extremely hard matches for both Galway teams and the bottom line is that we have to improve on what we produced last Saturday,” he says.
“We hope the lads come on after a match like the semi-final. A hard championship game can be worth a month’s training, but we are not naïve and we know that unless we improve we will not win the final.
“Semi-finals are just a gateway to a final and now that we are in it, we will be leaving no stone unturned in our efforts to win. We have two weeks of hard training ahead and hopefully we will steer clear of injuries and have a full panel to pick from for the final.”