It is time for fair play for all counties

His attention is currently turned to ensuring things go right for the Galway minor hurlers on Sunday, but Galway minor manager Jeffrey Lynskey also wants to see fairer play for counties like Galway so they can progress and develop players.

"We're looking forward to going up and playing our part on Sunday in the curtain raiser. The lads are looking forward to it, we're lucky to be playing our part," he says.

Galway have come through some epic battles to get to this stage, fighting back against Kilkenny the first day out to get a draw, and then to come from behind to win the replay. But there were periods in those games whenGalway went long periods without scoring, and that is something the minors have been working on.

"They're minors, you can't be too hard on them, because they are still in development mode and still learning as you are every day on a hurling pitch. We touched on it, we spoke about it, and hopefully on Sunday, they realise that if they perform in each half, each quarter, each 10 minutes, they should get a positive result."

While winning the All Ireland on Sunday is the main priority right now, getting the structures right to improve Galway hurling and feed into the senior team, is what the bainisteoir sees as his role overall.

"We're getting there. In our set-up we strive for improvement and marginal gains, that's what we're trying to do. We're trying to put in place things like player pathways, it all feeds into the senior team. People need to realise the step-up from minor and u-21 is huge.

"In Kilkenny it takes them five years to get them right. Galway, we probably parachute them too early. It takes them five years to develop physically and mentally for the challenge."

One of the biggest stumbling blocks in bringing players through from minor level and making them senior players is the lopsided u-21 championship where Galway are only getting one game at All Ireland semi-final level, and that is it if they do not win, he says.

"The biggest problem for us after minor, is I suppose u-21 grade. They are not going to improve or develop, you need a competitive structure, and without it, they are not going to bridge that gap, and it's a huge one," he says.

"The best way forward is the leadership has to come from Croke Park. People are saying it's Leinster, it's not Leinster's problem. The leadership has to come from Croke Park and the CCC.

"The best format would be two groups of six, everyone gets five games, the top four get into the quarter-finals. We're top heavy at senior level with the league, the Walsh Cup and the championship, but then at minor, Antrim only got one game, Limerick got four, Cork got two. Cork beat Limerick in one game and their reward four weeks later was to play Limerick away in the Gaelic Grounds. The whole system at minor level is flawed, it's not right.

"If we had lost our first game, we would have been under huge pressure, but because we're on a bit of a run, that kind of pressure is off us. But my remit and, I said it before, is developing the lads., I want to make these guys into better senior players."

Other issues, such as the 12 noon throw-in for Lynskey's minor side's All Ireland quarter-final win over Limerick, needs to be addressed, he says.

"We were up at half six that morning in order to plan the whole day. We had a puck around on The Rag before 10am, the boys had to eat their dinner that day at 10am, two hours out you had all the match preparation stuff. They deserve respect like the seniors - to play at a time that suits them. Why not play it in Pearse Stadium, let's be honest about it."

Lynskey is also irritated with the lack of home games for Galway. Lynskey says no other top counties have to deal with that.

"In the whole history of the assocation, we've had two competitive games of hurling in the championship [in Galway]. Imagine telling a Tipperary minor hurler that he won't get to play in Semple Stadium in Thurles, or if you're Cork, you won't get to play in Cork, if you're from Clare, you're not going to get to play in Cusack Park. The Galway minor hurlers never played in Athenry or Pearse Stadium, nor will the Antrim minor hurlers get to play in Casement Park. Someone has to challenge and question it."

Lynskey says traditions need to be challenged sometimes for the betterment of all.

"Someone needs to challenge and question it to come up with a better solution as to what's going on. The minor structure is flawed and that needs to change, the u-21 structure probably right now could do an open draw format, but again it takes leadership from people at the top level to say, 'let's put a proposal together to make it viable, competitive for all counties and make it equal". The whole structure for counties like Galway and Antrim at u-21 level is not equal, sure that's obvious by the results of the Galway u-21s over the last few years."

Even if Lynskey can guide his charges home on Sunday, it will not be the last time to hear him calling for the current system to be changed.



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