Galway turn season round but now face third Mayo test
Galway manager Alan Glynn sang the praises of his young troops after they held off a late surge from a resolute Derry at Parnell Park on Saturday to book their place in the All-Ireland minor football championship final.
Having lost three times in Connacht this year – twice at the hands of Mayo and once against Leitrim – there were question marks surrounding the Tribesmen heading into the All-Ireland series. However, an impressive quarter-final win over Dublin served notice of their potential and a combined haul of 1-8 from attacking duo Colm Costello and Eanna Monaghan had them seven points in front with 50 minutes on the clock in this last-four encounter.
While Derry went on to kick the final six scores of the contest, Galway had done enough to set-up a third championship meeting with provincial rivals Mayo on Saturday week.
“The beauty of the round robin is we got to learn in the Connacht championship and bring it to the Dublin game, bring it to today. It is a big turnaround, but nothing has changed since day one when we went out against Roscommon. We’ve always been a good team and if we can perform to our levels we’re as good as anybody in Ireland,” Glynn remarked.
“We’ve quality forwards that can do damage from any position on the pitch and were able to have good movement against a team that only conceded six points against Cork two weeks ago. We did really well from that point of view.”
Following Jack Lonergan’s superb fourth-minute goal, Monaghan, Costello (two) and Shay McGlinchey added points to give the Tribesmen a firm stranglehold on the play.
An Eoin Higgins major subsequently left Derry just three points adrift at the interval and a black card issued to McGlinchey presented the Ulster finalists with a numerical advantage on the restart. Yet Costello struck an outstanding individual goal in McGlinchey’s temporary absence and with Monaghan coming into his own, Galway led 2-9 to 1-5 with 10 minutes of normal time remaining.
Despite losing wing-forward Johnny McGuckian to a second yellow card, the Oak Leaf county embarked on a Ciaran Chambers-inspired scoring spree that left the bare minimum between the teams.
An equaliser evaded Martin Boyle’s outfit in a nail-biting finish, however, and Galway ultimately progressed to their third All-Ireland final at this grade in just five years. An U20 national title was also accrued by the Tribesmen in 2020 and Glynn believes these achievements stand as testament to the work being done at underage level throughout the county.
“I’ve come up through the Academy system myself so I’ve seen it first hand from 14 to 15 and 16. It’s a good set-up and we’re producing good players. We’ve to be very thankful to the clubs that are producing these players.
“You look at the vast representation of clubs we have from around Galway. Credit must go to them and the work that is in the schools ultimately. We get the best players in Galway and have to make them into a team, but if the clubs and the schools and the academies aren’t doing that work, well then we wouldn’t be here celebrating a semi-final win,” Glynn added.
C Costello (1-4, 0-2f), E Monaghan (0-4), J Lonergan (1-0), S McGlinchey (0-1).
C Chambers (0-6, 4f), E Higgins (1-1, 0-1f), R Forbes, J McGuckian, C Spiers, C Downey (0-1 each).
K Gilmore; T Farthing, R Flaherty, V Gill; M Mannion, C Trayers, R Coen; J Lonergan, S McGlinchey; S Dunne, E Monaghan, O Morgan; C Costello, F O’Connor, S Curley.
O Kelly for Dunne (48), J Summerville for O’Connor (57), C Cox for Curley (58), A Colleran for Flaherty (60), P McNeela for Coen (62).
B O’Connor; F McEldowney, E Scullion, D McDermott; J Murphy, O Crozier, S Birt; D McPeake, R Forbes; J McGuckian, O Murphy, C Spiers; E Higgins, C Chambers, C Higgins.
C Downey for C Higgins (39), A Donnelly for Scullion (41), D McGurk for Birt (52), J Dillon for Murphy (53).
S Laverty (Antrim).