All-Ireland Under 21 Hurling Final
Dublin V Galway
This weekend’s All-Ireland Under 21 hurling final is a repeat of last weekend’s minor final which was won comprehensively by Galway. One can imagine that after coming so close to beating Tipperary in the senior semi-final and losing last week in the minor final, Dublin will be determined to finally land an All-Ireland hurling title.
Dublin have been very impressive in their march to this final, particularly in the Leinster championship. In the early rounds of the Leinster championship, they enjoyed convincing wins over Offaly and Laois, to set up a final appearance against a highly rated Wexford side that had already knocked out Kilkenny. In that final, Dublin were absolutely superb winning by 1-18 to 0-11, with early substitute Eamonn Dillon grabbing 1-2 after coming on after 27 minutes. Several of these players have made appearances with the Dublin seniors this year and one in particular, Liam Rushe seems to be a shoo in to win the young hurler of the year award. Others such as Daire Plunkett and Mark Schutte have already appeared for the seniors while Conor Gough, Martin Quilty, Darren Kelly and Thomas Connolly ( a younger brother of football star, Diarmuid) are certainly stars of the future.
Of course, Dublin are coming into this game on the back of a rather easy quarter-final game against Antrim when they won on a scoreline of 3-23 to 0-6 and it remains to be seen if this game turns out to be a help or a hindrance.
Unlike Dublin who have already got four games under their belt, Galway have just played the one game so far in this year’s championship. In the All-Ireland semi-final, they surprised everyone by beating Munster champions Limerick. The fact that Limerick came out of a Munster championship that contained highly rated teams such as Waterford, Tipperary, Clare and Cork seemed to indicate that it would be them who would meet Dublin in the final but led by senior star David Burke, Galway upset the odds winning by 0-22 to 2-14 in an epic contest. On the day, it was the Galway half-forward line that did much of the damage with senior player, Barry Daly, Niall Burke and Tadhg Haran grabbing 17 points between them. The clash of Burke, who scored 7 points from play and Liam Rushe could be worth the entrance fee alone. Other Galway players to look out for include full-back, Niall Donoghue, Johnny Coen and last year’s minor star, David Glennon.
Because of Galway’s chronic lack of games coming into this All-Ireland final, it is nigh on impossible to pick a winner. Due to the format of the championship, one almost feels as if Dublin deserve the title more than the westerners but unfortunately that alone will not be enough to win the title. There is a growing feeling within the game that all these underage titles are almost wasted on Galway as they have not really earned them and also that they do not appear to be doing Galway any good either. Their failure after failure at senior level is a testament to this.
Despite Galway’s excellent victory over Limerick, one gets the feeling that Limerick might have been so caught up in their epic win over Cork in the Munster final and may have taken their eye off the ball. That, and the presence of Liam Rushe have persuaded me to plump for Dublin in this one.