Galway u-21 hurlers collect All-Ireland title in style

The Galway u-21 hurlers collected the county’s 10th All-Ireland u-21 title with a wonderful team performance last Saturday evening in Semple Stadium.

The Galway u-21 hurlers celebrate victory in the 2011 All Ireland final.

The Galway u-21 hurlers celebrate victory in the 2011 All Ireland final.

They won easily on a score-line of 3-14 to 1-10 against Dublin, and fully deserved the large margin of their victory.

Their win capped a terrific seven days for underage hurling success in the county after two dynamic and hugely talented sides produced emphatic victories on All-Ireland final days in the space of a week.

Mattie Murphy’s minors had nine points to spare in GAA headquarters in the minor and Anthony Cunningham’s charges had 10 points to spare as they easily saw off Dublin in Thurles the following Saturday.

The level of performance and the skills and confidence on show in both finals by all these young Galway lads will generate plenty of optimism in hurling circles in the county. The u-21 victory in particular demonstrated the potential that exists as many of the players prepare to move up to the senior grade.

Supporters will be weary of course. Underage success in the past in Galway has not led to senior success, but hopefully these youngsters can change that over the next four or five years.

The Galway u-21s were ruthless and resolute last Saturday and tore into Dublin with pace and power. The hurt of the heavy defeat to Tipperary in 2010 was in the players' subconscious and they were determined they were not going to lose two finals in a row.

Galway’s defence was in fine form and Dublin only managed to raise three white flags from play in the entire hour.

Kilbeacanty’s Niall Donoghue was in fine form and so too was right corner back Declan Connolly who cleared his lines with aplomb. Jason Grealish and senior panellist Ger O’Halloran also hurled well and Dublin found it difficult to get any joy up front.

Midfielder Johnny Coen was also in the thick of the action. Galway’s ability to pick up the breaks around the middle, the sharpness of their striking, their phenomenal work-rate, and the physicality of their tackling were also key facets of this victory.

The pacey Barry Daly and Tadhg Haran offered early threats up front and, when the team captain went down in the square, it was Haran who stepped up to blast home an 11th minute penalty.

Galway were on their way and they really cut loose and set up the win just before half-time.

Corner forwards James Regan and Davy Glennon both scored majors just before the break at which time Galway were in complete control, leading by 3-6 to 1-4.

Galway’s resilience in defence meant they never looked likely to leak any goals in the second half and it was impossible to see any way back for Dublin. A few cleverly picked off points by David Burke, Glennon, and Niall Burke ensured Galway’s 10th u-21 title at this level was never in doubt.

It was an impressive and comprehensive victory and much credit must go to the management team of Mattie Kenny, Tom Helebert and Anthony Cunningham.

Galway 2011 All-Ireland u-21 champions: Jamie Ryan, Declan Connolly, Niall Donoghue, Ger O’Halloran, Jason Grealish, Paul Gordon, Rory Foy, Johnny Coen, David Burke (0-3, 0-2 frees ); Conor Cooney (0-1 ), Niall Burke (0-3, 0-2 frees ), Tadhg Haran (1-3, 1-0 pen ), James Regan (1-2 ), Barry Daly (Cpt ), Davey Glennon (1-2 ). Subs used: R Burke for Gordan (inj ), B Burke for Haran, D Fox for Cooney, N Quinn for N Burke, D Cooney for D Burke.

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