Gritty Galway just that bit slicker than Kildare to reach under-21 football final
Lilywhites hit 19 wides as Tribesmen prove more efficient in front of the posts
Galway’s Seán Moran holds off Kildare’s Fergal Conway during their All-Ireland under-21 football semi-final. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
GALWAY 2-10 KILDARE 2-5
This was an intriguing encounter where Galway’s poise outwitted Kildare’s power. The Lilywhites ran the ball swiftly, but for all their movement and athleticism it was Galway who were that bit slicker converting chances. Kildare hit 19 wides, Galway were more efficient and the Tribesmen’s nous earned them an All-Ireland final berth.
At the end of a frenetic encounter Kildare manager Kieran McGeeney was left reflecting on what might have been. “We had our chances. We could have won two or three games out there,” was McGeeney’s assessment.
Galway midfielder Fiontán Ó Curraoin, a key figure in the side’s triumph at this level two years ago, agreed with the assertion that the Tribesmen relish to be underdogs with something to prove. “It reminded me of two years ago when we went into the semi-final against Cork. We were underdogs and we love that. It is brilliant to get back into an All-Ireland final. When I was straight out of minor I maybe felt it might be easy to get there, but it is only now you notice how hard it is,” he said.
No Galwegian would dispute that view because Alan Flynn’s team had to strain every sinew to survive before soaring. Galway were gritty forcing Kildare to panic during a match that highlighted the Corribsiders’ resilience.
Kildare had plenty of possession during the opening period, but they were rocked when Tom Flynn drilled a 10th minute Galway goal. Daniel Flynn summoned an instant response hitting a Kildare major, but Galway, with Shane Walsh providing flashes of his major potential, departed 1-6 to 1-3 ahead at the interval.
After the restart it was tight and tense, but a Seán Moran goal at the three quarter mark gave Galway a six point cushion. Again Kildare replied with a Seán Hurley palmed goal, but in the dying stages Galway stayed cool and composed. Walsh and Cathal Mulryan lofted over the insurance scores ensuring Alan Flynn cut a satisfied figure.
“We felt ourselves that if we could get enough ball into our forward line we could cause a little bit of damage. The most important thing for us to remember, though, is by winning this match is that it only gets us into a final,” he said.
That decider with Cork should be tasty, and Galway, stuffed with skilful footballers, skipped happily away from Tullamore hearty and hopeful that further bright days await.
GALWAY: T Healy; M Loughnane, J Shaughnessy, D Cunnane; D Burke, P Varley, G Canavan; T Flynn (1-0), F Ó Curraoin; C Mulryan (0-1), S Moran (1-1), D Comer (0-1); S Walsh (0-6, 0-3 frees), A Varley, I Burke (0-1). Subs: C Rabbitte for Burke (41 mins), P Ezergailis for Cunnane (44 mins), L Silke for Canavan (52 mins), E Commins for Comer (59 mins).
KILDARE: M Donnellan; M Konstantin, D Hyland, S Higgins; P Cribbin (0-1), F Conway, J Byrne; T Moolick, S Hurley (1-0); D Flynn (1-1), N Kelly (0-1), F Dowling (0-1); P Brophy, L McGovern, P Fogarty (0-1). Subs: H Mahon for Fogarty (49 mins), T Gibbons for McGovern (56 mins), G Farrell for Dowling (56 mins).
Referee: B Cassidy (Derry).