The Irish Times – Saturday, September 3, 2011
PEDIGREE VERSUS persistence. The old order is crumbling. Well, maybe. Dublin enter the big house for Sunday’s curtain-raiser with the best side they have produced in a generation.
Underage hurling, in general, is in rude health at the moment. Dublin have climbed to the summit despite the continued presence of Kilkenny. We have seen special teams come out of Clare, Waterford and Limerick of late. Cork won’t be down for long.
Galway continue to produce excellent minors who are unable to replicate their success at senior level. Mattie Murphy has a lot to do with their success. Mattie has a formula and he’s sticking to it.
Look at their record in the 21st century. Minor champions in 2000, 2004, 2005 and 2009. Runners-up 2001, 2003, 2006 and 2008. Yes, they have come out of Connacht, but they are the superpower of the age grade.
The defeat of Clare in the All-Ireland semi-final was further proof of this.
Now, Dublin must cross their Rubicon. No minor All-Ireland since 1965. The strategic 10-year plan demands a national breakthrough. Here is the opportunity, although a second chance comes, also against Galway, in the under-21 final next week.
To the teams. Dublin have four teenagers poised to become double All-Ireland champions. Cormac Costello was brilliant in the comprehensive semi-final defeat of Waterford, racking up 4-2. We can’t decide if Ciarán Kilkenny is a footballer or a hurler – hopefully he will be both. Emmett Ó Conghaile and Eric Lowndes are also having fantastic campaigns in football and hurling.
Others worth mentioning are the free-taker Paul Winters and the defensively sound Matthew McCaffrey, who is a brother of senior captain Johnny.
Galway caused a surprise by toppling Clare after extra-time in their semi-final. An impressive physicality got them through. The captain, Shane Maloney, is a quality hurler, as are the rest, but it is the power of young men like Pádraig Brehony and Jonathon Glynn that will test Dublin – who have a few big fellas themselves.
“We saw Dublin against Waterford and you would have to give them due respect,” Maloney told the Connacht Tribune. “They are a big set of men and all well able to hurl. However, as Mike (Haverty, the Galway coach) said, ‘yes, they might be big men, but what wins the game is putting the ball between the posts’.”
What most impressed about Galway against Clare was they seemed out of their depth yet still managed to stay in touch. Gerard O’Donoghue’s goal proved the decisive moment.
Not that Dublin are shy of scoring goals – they hit six past Waterford on August 14th. Just like their football counterparts last weekend, they will go directly for the jugular.
It seems like Dublin’s to lose but their manager Shay Boland put it best when paying tribute to his counterpart: “Mattie Murphy has been at this since our God’s time – I mean, he is a dab hand at it.”
Winning minor All-Irelands is in Galway hurlers’ DNA.
Pedigree versus persistence.
But the new order is rising.
Dublin with a few to spare.
DUBLIN: C Ryan; E Lowndes, C O’Callaghan, S McClelland; C Crummey, J Desmond, M McCaffrey; C Cronin, G Whelan; E Ó Conghaile, C McHugh, C Kilkenny; C Costello, A Clabby, P Winters.
GALWAY: S Mannion; C Diviney, P Killeen, P Mannion; A Tuohy, S Sweeney, J Hansbury; P Brehony, D Higgins; J Flynn, J Glynn, B Lane; G Donoghue, J Carr, S Moloney.
Referee : J Ryan (Tipperary).