The Salthill/Knocknacarra footballers will face Corofin this Saturday in the county u-21 A final at Pearse Stadium (2.30pm ).
Both clubs met in the senior decider six weeks ago, with the North Board men winning easily. As a result the Salthill club and players will be very keen to deny Corofin another win over them in the same year.
Salthill/Knocknacarra team manager Kevin Johnson has been pleased with his players’ progress this season and Saturday will be the team's sixth championship game this year at this grade.
Their u-21 season started last January with a draw with Micheal Breathnachs in the West Board championship. They won the replay, and have since gone on to overcome St James and St Michael's, also after a replay, to qualify for the county final.
Johnson, who teaches at St Enda's College, says it has been a long season for most of his players.
"The lads have showed lots of character all year and they have trained very diligently even though it has been a very long season at this grade. Most of the lads have been either involved with the club's intermediate or senior teams, and the key thing is that they are developing as players and enjoying their football. A good few of them were involved last weekend with the intermediates, who had a good win and were promoted to 2B in the league for next year."
He will be looking for big displays on Saturday from team captain Gearoid Canavan and Evan Wynne in defence, Robert Butler and Mattie Heskin around the middle, and up front, impressive full-forward Seán Hughes and Geároid Armstrong.
Johnson is delighted to have no injury issues and has a full hand from which to select for the clash.
"Thankfully, we have a clean bill of health for the game and we are all very much looking forward to the challenge of taking on Corofin. The mood is very positive in our panel and we will select the team on Thursday night. We have about 30 lads on our panel and they have all done their bit to get us to the final. What we want to do now, is to finish the season with a win on Saturday."
Corofin team manager Brian Silke has anything but a clean bill of health. and his side will be without at least seven players due to injury.
Daithí Burke (broken bone ), who won an All-Ireland u-21 medal this year with Galway, is a big loss at midfield, and he is joined on the injury list by Conor Cunningham (knee ), county minor full-back Cathal Reilly (cruciate ), Jason Leonard (broken collar bone ), Oisín Mannion (fractured ankle ), Stephen Broderick (cruciate ), and Colin Brady (ankle ligaments ).
Considering that list of absent players, Silke is glad to have at least the North Board u-21 title in the bag after a narrow 1-15 to 1-13 win over Claregalway in that final.
"We have been badly affected with injuries in the last few months, but we have to play the cards we have been dealt, and we will be going with our best foot forward on Saturday.
“As we are missing so many key players, our panel is severely stretched, but we still have some experienced players such as Tom Healy, Ian Burke and Liam Silke, who were all involved with the county u-21 team this year and have played for the club seniors regularly.
“ We will need some real leaders to emerge against Salthill and we are expecting a really tough test. We were very pleased to win the North Board final and a win on Saturday would be a real bonus."