Waterford can end Galway’s minor hurling dominance
Déise teenagers look like they might be a cut above Mattie Murphy’s side
Waterford captain Kevin Daly is one of five players who could complete an All-Ireland colleges and All-Ireland MHC double. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho
With objections and technical flaws shouldered over the sideline, Mattie Murphy leads his latest gang of Galway teenagers into the Croke Park arena tomorrow.
Murphy’s record as a mentor of minors is so astonishing it deserves retelling. Since 1992 Galway have reached 15 All-Ireland finals and won eight. Despite two brief stints as senior manager, Murphy’s fingerprints are all over these captures of the Irish Press Cup. Galway’s dominance of the under-18 age grade remains the great enigma, in that they consistently fail to transfer it into senior success.
Maybe their pathway to silverware has something to do with that.
Waterford have played seven championship matches since April, technically winning only three, losing two, drawing the one with the All-Ireland quarter-final against Antrim being abandoned.
(Having taken into consideration the gulf between the teams, Antrim opted not to seek a rescheduled tie and forfeited the result.)
Before that Waterford had lost to Tipperary, beaten Clare and Cork after extra-time before losing to Limerick in the Munster final replay.
But the quality of these Déise teenagers cannot be questioned. Proof being the 2-12 to 0-16 defeat of Kilkenny in the All-Ireland semi-final.
Galway men may be embedded in Leinster since 2009 but the minors needed only two outings to be hurling in September. Granted, they had to see off a decent Laois side and then Limerick, in a thrilling and controversial encounter that also required extra-time.
Both line-ups are unchanged from their semi-final conquests. However, Waterford manager Seán Power has shifted DJ Foran from wing to centre forward as Michael Kearney comes out the field. Also, chief marksman Patrick Curran (2-46 so far) lines out at full forward with Adam Farrell switching to the corner.
History supports Galway as Waterford have not won this title since 1948 but this bunch are on the cusp of achieving a double that would put them among a very select group.
Five Waterford hurlers – Kevin Daly, Tom Devine, Michael Harney, Cormac Curran and Patrick Curran – were on the Dungarvan team that won the All-Ireland colleges title in April. Daly captains his county tomorrow.
They are clearly special. Maybe, just maybe special enough to make a Mattie Murphy side look ordinary.
GALWAY: C Tuohy; M Ó Conghaile, D O’Donoghue, M Conneely; S Linnane, S Cooney, R Doyle; E Burke, D Dolan; C Whelan, R O’Meara, A Morrissey; B Molloy, B Burke, C Shaughnessy.
WATERFORD: G Power; W Hahessy, K Daly (capt), C Leamy; M Harney, A Gleeson, Shane Bennett; M O’Brien, T Devine; Stephen Bennett, DJ Foran, M Kearney; A Farrell, P Curran, C Roche.
Referee: C McAllister (Cork).