Minors face tough task on Sunday

Mayo minor Cian Hanley in action. Photo: Sportsfile.

Mayo minor Cian Hanley in action. Photo: Sportsfile.

Unfortunately for some folk, the minor grade will always be an after thought, something they will catch the last 20 minutes of before the big senior game.

Which is really a shame, because anybody who has been following this year’s crop of Mayo minors, and last year’s team that went on to win the All Ireland, will know that they have been involved in some of the most exciting and exhilarating games of football over the last 12 months.

Since taking charge of the minor team, things could not have really gone any better for Enda Gilvarry, and he puts that down to one constant - the workrate and the willingness of all those involved with the team to go that extra mile and push themselves to the limit.  

On Sunday, Mayo take on a Kerry team under the guidance of former Kerry senior manager Jack O'Connor and featuring a number of players from Pobalscoil Chorcha Dhuibhne, who won the Hogan Cup in Croke Park back in April.

They also come into the game on the back of an impressive destruction of a decent Kildare side in the semi-final with a 2-15 to 1-8 win on the Bank Holiday Monday.

The Kerry attack has a very impressive full forward line with Killian Spillane, Jordan Kiely and Tomas Ó Sé  contributing 2-8 of Kerry's total in their last eight win.

Gilvarry will have put plenty of preparation into keeping that particular line in check ahead of Sunday.

Mayo have their own marquee players, who will have had O'Connor scratching his head at night over the last few weeks as well.

With captain Cian Hanley leading the way, the Ballaghaderreen youngster has been an outstanding leader of this side so far, and after cruelly missing out on last year’s final with a nasty shoulder injury, he is not wasting any time. At the back, Seamus Cuniffee and Barry Duffy have been a serious spine to this team and since Cunniffe has made it back into the side, it has released Duffy further forward and let him play more of his natural game.

In the middle of the park, the Breaffy duo of Matthew Ruane (a sub for last year’s winning team ) and Gary Walsh have been very impressive this year, as both men have gone about their jobs with maximum efficiency.

Up front, Hanley leads the half forward line where he has been well flanked by his clubmate Shairoze Akram and Gary Boylan, while the imposing TJ Byrne has been a handful for all of the defences he has come up against this year.

Mayo had it tough against Galway in the Connacht semi-final and had to dig deep to get out of trouble, but since then they have found their groove, holding off Roscommon for long stages before pulling away in the Connacht final and then running through the Armagh defence in a second third blitz in the quarter-final to kill off the game with 20 minutes remaining.

But Sunday promises to be another major challenge as the young Kerrymen, with a wiley old commander on the sideline, come looking to take their crown.

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