Galway minors continue dynasty with three-in-a-row of All-Ireland titles
Seán McDonagh scores 2-8 in dominant display against Kilkenny
Galway players celebrate their victory over Kilkenny in the Electric Ireland All-Ireland Minor Final at Croke Park. Photograph: Oisín Keniry/Inpho
Galway’s Seán McDonagh scores a penalty in the Electric Ireland All-Ireland Minor Final against Kilkenny at Croke Park. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
Moments after sniping 2-8 for Galway, a microphone was put in front of Seán McDonagh. The man-of-the-match was reminded by the interviewer that he also featured in last year’s final win over Kilkenny. “Two years now,” nodded McDonagh, “they’ve been the best two years of my life.”
He won’t forget this one in particular, as Galway joined an elite group of counties who have won three minor All-Irelands in a row.
The other counties who have achieved the feat are Kilkenny (1960-1962), Cork (1937-1939 and 1969-1971) and Tipperary (1932-1934 and 1955-1957).
Ruben Davitt was the other Galway goalscorer, striking in the eighth minute and putting his county into a lead they would not relinquish.
By half-time Galway were five clear and early in the second half they doubled that advantage to 10 before McDonagh’s second goal in the 47th minute.
Galway recorded their 11th win in a row in the minor championship, their last defeat in the grade coming three years ago.
Kilkenny were well below their best and but for 13 Galway wides would have been beaten by more.
The win keeps alive the prospect of a double of All-Ireland minor titles for Galway – the footballers play Cork on September 1st – something only achieved by Dublin, Cork and Tipperary.
“Our half-back line snuffed out everything,” said Galway manager Brian Hanley. “John Cooney, Enda Collins and Ian McGlynn didn’t let anything get inside. Our full-back line was terrific and I don’t know if Michael Egan in goals had a shot to save. He over-carried a ball at one stage – I think he might have been trying to get himself into the game! I think everyone collectively just did their bit and the subs that came on all added to it.”
Yet the three-in-a-row aspect of the win did little for Hanley.
“That means nothing because it’s all about going forward for Galway, our whole thing this year is about it being a pathway to play senior hurling.”
Connaire looks like a potential Galway senior and won three frees in the first half when the game was a real battle, each of which McDonagh converted. Connaire then converted a point himself before playing the ball that Greg Thomas won for their stoppage-time penalty. Again, McDonagh converted and Galway led 2-6 to 0-7 at the break.
Galway killed the contest in the third quarter with a run of five unanswered points.
When the sides met in the quarter-final group stage, Kilkenny came from 12 points down to draw level before eventually losing that game by three. But there was no fightback this time as Galway maintained the upper hand and grabbed that third goal through McDonagh to secure it.
GALWAY: M Egan; A Nolan, E Lawless, C Brennan; E Collins, I McGlynn, J Cooney; L Leen, A Connaire (0-1); T Killeen (0-2), S McDonagh (2-8, 1-0 pen, six frees, one 65), C Cunningham; R Davitt (1-2), S Morgan, G Thomas (0-1).
Subs: G Lee for Cunningham (46 mins), S O’Hanlon for Morgan (52), T Davoren for Collins (55), C Molloy for Davitt (60), N Glynn for Thomas (62).
KILKENNY: A Tallis; B Reid, W Halpin, T Roche; P McDonald (0-1), P Moylan, Z Bay Hammond; L Moore (0-1), J Aylward; P Blanchfield, T Clifford (0-1), C O’Sullivan (0-2); B Drennan (0-6, five frees), J Doyle, I Byrne.
Subs: D Walsh for Blanchfield (38 mins), A Hickey for Aylward (45), B Wheeler (0-1) for Byrne (52), A Murphy for Drennan (59).
Referee: P Murphy (Carlow).