Galway minors target three-in-row in All-Ireland hurling final
Side’s experience will stand to them as they face Kilkenny for second year in row
Wexford’s Dylan Whelan and Galway’s Sean McDonagh in the All-Ireland Minor Championship Semi-Final, at Croke Park. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Permit us to jump forward by a week for a moment to next weekend’s All-Ireland Under-20 final.
We already know that whatever happens at Croke Park on Sunday, the new minor and senior All-Ireland champions won’t have won a provincial title and that may also be the case for the new under-20 champions, if Cork win that one.
It’s a curious occurrence which could indicate any number of things, none of which could be properly investigated in 400 words.
The Galway minors, admittedly, don’t actually have a provincial championship to contest though Kilkenny, their opponents tomorrow, came up short against Wexford in the Leinster final.
Kilkenny also lost to Galway in the All-Ireland quarter-final group stage, by 3-16 to 2-16, when the counties met in mid-July at Croke Park.
That was a cracking game and if we get a repeat tomorrow, we’re in for a treat.
With 30 minutes on the clock that day, Galway led by 2-10 to 0-4, the 2017 and 2018 All-Ireland minor winners cutting loose in their first game of the summer. Yet by the 48th minute, the scores were remarkably tied, 2-12 to 2-12.
A Galway goal from Seán McDonagh two minutes later ultimately separated the teams but in a strange way, Kilkenny perhaps left the happier, winning the second-half 2-10 to 1-6.
Kilkenny took out Munster champions Limerick in the All-Ireland semi-finals, with a dozen points to spare and have a manager in Richie Mulrooney who has done it all before, winning in 2008 and 2010.
Straight red card
Galway, meanwhile, followed that win over Kilkenny by beating Clare and then Leinster champions Wexford in the semi-finals.
Ian McGlynn, their captain, was sent off on a straight red card against Wexford but the sanction was rescinded by the Central Hearings Committee.
He is a big player for Galway, as is Alex Connaire ahead of him in midfield and free-taker McDonagh in what is a dangerous forward unit. Billy Drennan has been Kilkenny’s chief marksman, delivering from frees and in open play while Timmy Clifford is highly rated as is midfielder Liam Moore.
It’s the same final pairing as last year, a game Galway won by 0-21 to 0-14. It’s two entirely new teams 12 months on, although McGlynn, Colm Cunningham, Connaire, Eoin Lawless and McDonagh were all on the bench last year – Cunningham, McDonagh and McGlynn coming on – and that experience will stand to them.
Galway, who last lost a minor game in August of 2016, get the nod for a 10th consecutive win at the grade, to complete the three-in-a-row.