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I think a congratulations is in order for a particular bunch of lads from without county who on Saturday won an All Ireland title. Of course, those bunch of lads are our own u21 gaelic football team.
Under the guidance of Alan Flynn and a helping hand from both Declan Meehan and Paul Clancy, Galway have won another All Ireland u21 title, their second in three years. Its safe to say since the Tribes got underway in the competition on March 18th in Tuam Stadium, the team has improved with each showing and have come out on top the hard way. They comfortably accounted for Sligo, got the better of Mayo after a fantastic battle and then accounted for the reigning Connacht u21 champions in their own backyard in the Connacht Final. From then, no body was giving this exceptional (majority underage again next year) team a chance in the All Ireland semi final against the All Ireland title favourites, but just like in Ennis two years ago against Cork, Galway showed that they’re no pushovers in underage football when it comes to the business end of competition. Sure, they rode their luck at times, but for skill, bravery, determination and work rate they got there rewards and deservedly had a date in the All Ireland final against Cork.
What can I say? From the match reports you will read today or the coverage you witnessed on Saturday, I wont be delving into a match report. Instead I will leave some thoughts about the decider in the Gaelic grounds in Limerick. As soon as the venue was confirmed, I knew we were in business. A wide, big pitch was always going to suit the fast, skilful Galway forwards much like in Croke Park 2 years ago against Cavan. Fiontan O’Curraoin was undoubtably Man of the match yesterday, he gave a display truly deserving of captaincy. Cathal Mulryan also proved his worth, taking an array of scores and linking up play fantastically .
Adrain Varley who, it would be fair say, is often is the unsung hero and was once again at his very best, out in front of his man and laying the ball off to a man in the better position. Speaking of a man in the better position, Ian Burke led the way taking some fantastic scores befitting a player who in my opinion, will play senior football for Galway sooner rather than later. Honourable mention must also extend to Shane Walsh and Damien Comer (well taken goal).
The work rate of all the team was exceptional at times, but to focus on the backline for the moment, James Shaughnessy proved once again that he is one of the best underage defenders in the county along with Cunnane and Varley.
The team deserve great credit and I do hope they enjoyed themselves the past two nights (and the official homecoming celebrations tonight). They truly are deserved wearers of the maroon and white and heres hoping that they can one day don the senior jersey with the same passion, commitment and pride.