Galway U-20 hurlers aim to hit the ground running


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Galway U-20 hurlers aim to hit the ground running Galway U-20 hurlers aim to hit the ground running

IT was a campaign which never got off the ground and ultimately led to Brian Hanley stepping down as Galway U-20 hurling team manager.

The supposedly rising stars of Galway hurling played four matches in 2023 but didn’t make it past the Leinster quarter-finals in a championship which was risk-averse.

Galway were drawn in a four-team group with all advancing in the championship regardless of their finishing position, but it made little difference to the fortunes of the boys in maroon.

After a surprising loss to Dublin (1-19 to 1-17) in Birr, Galway also went down to Kilkenny in a high-scoring encounter (5-20 to 3-20) before salvaging some pride with a narrow win over Wexford (1-20 to 1-17) at Dr Cullen Park,

Overall, Galway lacked cohesion, but they were still favourites to overcome Offaly in the Leinster quarter-final at O’Connor Park. Unfortunately, it proved another difficult outing as the Tribesmen’s challenge was dispensed with on a 3-20 to 2-17 scoreline by a home team which went on to reach the All-Ireland final.

But a new campaign brings fresh hope and Galway will start their bid for championship glory by renewing rivalry against Leinster title holders Offaly at O’Connor Park in Tullamore on Saturday (2pm).

With Fergal Healy stepping up from minor boss to take over from Hanley, it is anticipated that Galway will be more competitive over the coming weeks, with the team’s second outing in a group of three coming against Dublin at the same venue on Saturday week, April 13.

All three teams will again advance from the group, but Galway will be anxious to hit the ground running in trying to book a direct passage to the provincial semi-finals.

At minor level, Healy suffered a heartbreaking loss to Tipperary in the 2022 All-Ireland semi-final, and while Galway went a step further last year, they came up short against a classy Clare team in the final in Thurles.

But there were positive vives about Healy’s management of the minors and the Craughwell clubman will again be joined on the sideline by Joe Canning, Padraic Duddy, James Skehill and Eamon Cleary.

Craughwell’s Tiarnán Leen will lead the squad into championship combat, while Loughrea’s Darren Shaughnessy is the vice-captain.

Pictured: New Galway U-20 hurling captain Tiarnán Leen pictured in action agiainst Dublin’s Neil Clerkin in last year’s Leinster championship.

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