Galway v Kilkenny
All-Ireland Minor Hurling Championship Final Preview
Croke Park Sunday 19th August @1pm
Galway will be looking to repeat their impressive Minor & Senior success of last year and the first part of that potential double sees their young guns take on a Kilkenny side that they have already defeated earlier in the Championship. That victory was by an impressive margin of 1-21 to 2-11 back in a quarterfinal round-robin game in Thurles.
Since then Kilkenny have recorded wins over Limerick and Tipperary to advance to the final and will be aiming for their first win at this grade since 2014. Richie Mulrooney’s youngsters were involved in an amazing 13 goal thriller in the Leinster final and ended up on the losing side despite scoring 7-12, as the young Dubs hit 6-19 to win by four. Galway later defeated that Dublin side convincingly in the semi-final on a scoreline of 3-22 v 0-16. Kilkenny captain Conor Kelly has been a key player for the young Cats and has been assisted by Ciaran Brennan, Jack Morrissey, Cathal O’Leary and Jack Buggy as their main scorers.
This is the first Minor final to be played at the new under 17 age grade. As a result of this change all of Galway’s winning team from last years Minor final victory over Cork are too old this time around and Galway Manager Jeffery Lynskey had to start from scratch this year. Speaking on this topic last week he explained that the clubs and selectors within the county have been heavily involved in helping to identify leaders within the group. Despite not being in action until the round robin stage in June, the squad came together in January and have had close to 100 training sessions together at this stage.
This is Lynskey’s fourth year in the job and he’s aiming for his third All-Ireland after wins at this level in 2015 and 2017. Lynskey stated that he also takes great pride in seeing members of that 2015 team going on to represent the county at Senior level. Brian Concannon, Sean Loftus and Thomas Monaghan while Jack Grealish, Jack Coyne and Evan Niland all featured in Galway’s division 1B league campaign.
The star of the show for the young Tribesmen so far has been Donal O’Shea, son of former Tipperary manager Eamon. His accuracy from placed balls has been highly impressive notching up 12 points from placed balls in their semi-final win over the Dubs and 10 points in their win over the young Cats. He also has an eye for goal and showed that while helping himself to 1-5 against Limerick.
Another factor in the Tribesmen’s favour is the expected presence of a large vocal Galway support. There were 64,000 in attendance by half-time in the Minor final last year and they witnessed an impressive second-half fightback by the Galway youngsters, who turned the tide on a fancied Cork team who had started brightly. Brian Turnbull found the net for Cork in the very first minute and led 2-5 to 0-5 midway through the first half. However, two second-half goals from Jack Canning drove the Galway youngsters onto a two point victory.
Given Galway’s prior win over Kilkenny earlier in the campaign and their impressive semi-final win over a fancied Dublin side it’s hard to see past a Galway victory on Sunday.