The Galway minor hurlers head to Croke Park this Sunday hoping to continue Galway’s impressive success rate at this grade.
Manager Mattie Murphy is a man who has enjoyed considerable success with Galway teams at this age group. He took Galway to an All-Ireland title at minor level back in 1992 and a victory on Sunday would be his sixth All-Ireland success at u-18 level. It is an extraordinary record and one that can hopefully continue this weekend.
Standing in the team’s way is a very impressive and strong Dublin outfit which had a notable win over Waterford in their semi-final.
Dublin will look to dual stars Emmet Ó Conghaile, Ciarán Kilkenny and Cormac Costello to power their team over the winning line. All are very accomplished hurlers as well as footballers and the first two lads have very strong Galway connections. Ó Conghaile’s family is from the Aran Islands, while Kilkenny has very strong connections with the Pearses club.
Galway will announce their starting 15 tonight (Thursday ), with players like Jack Carr and Dean Higgins, who both did really well on their introduction as subs against Clare in the semi-final, pushing hard for starting slots. Both are likely to get the nod.
Murphy is a shrewd operator and he readily admits his team will have to produce a very solid display on Sunday to overcome Dublin who go into the game as marginal favourites at 5/6 compared to Galway at 11/10.
“Dublin are a very good side. They have some very accomplished players and we know that if we let them play the game as they want to, it will be difficult for us. We will have to stop their half-forward line running through as they did against Waterford and we will need to be wary of the goal threat they have. They are capable of raising green flags in the semi-final against Waterford and our six backs will have to be on their game to make sure they do not get any easy goal chances,” says Murphy.
Thankfully Galway have no injury worries apart from the unlucky Daire Burke who has been out since the quarter-final win over Antrim with a broken bone. His cast was only removed last week.
Galway will look to big displays up front from team captain Shane Maloney, Gerard O’Donoghue, Jack Carr and Jonathan Flynn. Seán Sweeney and Padraic Brehony will also have to produce the goods and hurl to their full potential.
Murphy is hoping his side will have improved from the Clare game.
“Our training has been going very well over the past few weeks and we are happy with the mood in the camp. It will all come down to the day and which team plays to their full potential.
“We have a very strong panel with some very talented and exciting hurlers in the squad, but they need to go out and produce the goods this Sunday. We believe that if our lads do that, we won’t be far away from a win. Whichever team deals best with the pressure of All-Ireland final day will probably come through and we are hopeful our lads will be able for the challenge.”
Galway have won the All-Ireland minor title on eight occasions, with the last title coming in 2009.
The winning years for Galway minor hurling successes are 1983, 1992, 1994, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2005 and 2009.