Galway u-21s look to raise the bar again against favourites Kildare

The Galway u-21 footballers will head to Tullamore this Saturday (2pm ) to take on Kildare in the All-Ireland semi-final knowing they will have to improve significantly on their Connacht final display if they are to get past a big, tall and physical Kildare outfit.

Galway, who are under the management team of Alan Flynn, Paul Clancy, Declan Meehan, Alan Mulholland and Donál Ó Fatharta, have made strides in all their games to date, from their wins over Sligo and Mayo up to their extra-time win over Roscommon two weeks ago.

However next Saturday will be another step-up in class. They face a Kildare side which boasts several players who have already seen senior action in the O'Byrne Cup and the national league campaign. Five of the players who are expected to be named this weekend lined out last Sunday in the county’s four-point defeat to Tyrone in the division one league semi-final.

They are a tall and rangy team with big fielders in the likes of Seán Hurley and Tomás Moolick. Their inside line of Paddy Brophy, Fionn Dowling and Padraig Fogarty were especially effective in their 1-12 to 0-12 Leinster final win over Longford.

Other players to keep an eye out for on Saturday are lively centre-forward Niall Kelly, Daniel Flynn at wing-forward, and highly mobile wing-back Paul Cribben.

Errors to the minimum

Galway manager Alan Flynn says his side faces a big challenge this weekend, but it is one to which he and the panel are looking forward.

"We know Kildare are a good side. However we have a lot of belief in our squad and they have shown a lot of grit and determination in their three games to date. Things looked bad for us against Roscommon at one stage, but the lads stuck to the task and got their reward in the end. Next Saturday will be a step-up on what we have faced so far, but it is a game we are really looking forward to.

"Our work-rate will have to be very high all over the pitch and we will have to keep our errors to a minimum, but the mood is very good in our camp and we are really looking forward to the game."

Galway will be looking for big performances from team captain Fiontán Ó Curraoin at midfield, defenders James Shaughnessy, Paul Varley and Daithí Burke, who is expected to have recovered from the hamstring injury which kept him out of the Connacht final.

Athenry's Tomás Flynn is expected to start too after his long-term knee injury and his mobility and fielding ability could be critical around the middle third. Annaghdown's Damien Comer and Cortoon's Cathal Mulryan have also worked tirelessly in the three victories and it will be interesting to see how Galway deploy their men around the central diamond.

The Galway supporters in O' Connor Park on Saturday will have their fingers crossed that the likes of Shane Walsh and Ian Burke have their shooting boots with them as both have hit the crucial scores when the need was at its greatest in the wins over Mayo (Walsh ) and Roscommon (Burke ). Other forwards like Adrian Varley and Seán Moran will also have to produce big displays if Galway are to progress to face either Cork or Cavan in the All-Ireland final on May 4.

The bookies have no doubts who will win - Galway the 2/1 outsiders and Kildare the 1/2 favourites.


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