A tough opener as u-21 hurlers start title defence

The Galway u-21 hurlers take on Kilkenny in Thurles (6pm ) this Saturday evening in the Bord Gais Energy All-Ireland semi-final. The game is preceded by the other semi-final, between Clare and Antrim at 4pm.

Galway are under the same management team as the seniors, namely Anthony Cunningham, Mattie Kenny and Tom Helebert.

Galway are at a disadvantage of having played no championship game this year, while Kilkenny will be playing their third. The Cats cruised through their province with two convincing wins, beating both Wexford and then surprise packets Laois in the final. They have some impressive youngsters in Richie Doyle, Ger Aylward, Canice Buckley and Willie Walsh in their ranks.

Galway team selector Mattie Kenny says Saturday will be a really tough challenge and he believes Galway will have to be at their very best to see off the Cats.

“Kilkenny are a very good team and they have some top class forwards. They hit 3-20 against Wexford, and 4-24 against Laois, so we will have to be ready for a really tough battle with them.

“The fact that Kilkenny have played a few championship games is a help to them, but we won’t be using that as excuse regardless of how Saturday goes. We know that they are a very good team, but you expect that from Kilkenny and we are looking forward to the challenge of going to Thurles to take them on. You have to beat the best teams in the country to win an All-Ireland and this year is no different to any other in that regard.”

Galway have some highly talented youngsters from which to select the starting15 with 17 of the Galway senior squad eligible for this grade, Many have the experience of winning last year’s All-Ireland at this level, and as a result they are 8/13 favourites while Kilkenny are 6/4 outsiders.

The Galway team is due to be announced tonight (Thursday ) and is expected to include Johnny Coen, Niall Donoghue, Conor Cooney, Niall Burke, James Regan, Darragh Burke, Jonathan Glynn, Pádraig Brehony, Tadhg Haran, Shane Maloney, Daithí Burke and Richie Cummins.

 

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