THE Galway minors set the tone for a truly memorable day when defeating Cork in a thrilling All-Ireland minor hurling final, claiming the last minor title in the process. Jeffrey Lynskey’s side once again showed all of the qualities that have been so prevalent in their performances throughout the year on Sunday, overcoming a nervy start to eventually conquer the pre-match favourites.
Heart, spirit, skill, work rate, intensity, attitude, determination, teamwork – the list goes on, but you name it, this Galway side had it in spades. Seeing Darren Morrissey ascend the steps of the Hogan Stand to lift the Irish Press Cup one last time was recognition of the sacrifices made by players and management since the start of the year.
For winning an All-Ireland final does not come about easily. Sunday’s performance was months in the making and while many years those efforts go unrewarded, this time around it was Galway’s moment, but my how they made us sweat for it.
In the lead up to Sunday’s final, Lynskey spoke of how the Galway minors felt at home on the big stage in Croke Park, it was where they belonged, but for the first 20 minutes, they looked anything but at home, as the young Tribesmen appeared to be struggling with the magnitude of the occasion.
Granted they were hit with a sucker punch goal after only eight seconds, but across the board, Galway looked nervy. Forwards couldn’t win primary possession, backs found themselves competing with each other for the same ball, they were missing jab lifts and passes were going astray.
When Darach Fahy gifted possession to Craig Hanafin in the 16th minute, resulting in Cork’s second goal for corner forward Evan Sheehan, it looked as though a drubbing was on the cards, but credit to Galway, they stuck at it and eventually worked their way in to the game to the point where they totally dominated proceedings in the second half.
Robert Downey was Cork’s main aerial threat at full forward and with Darren Morrissey taking up a man-marking role on Brian Turnbull as expected, Mark Gill was redeployed to full back to keep tabs on the Glen Rovers man.
Immediately from the throw-in, Cork looked for Downey. Conor O’Callaghan sent in a long ball which Downey brought to ground and the ball fell beautifully for Turnbull who pulled first time past the helpless Fahy in goal. Eight seconds gone, Cork one goal to the good.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.