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Three Underage Clashes Which Have Heavily Influenced Sunday’s All-Ireland Final

This Sunday sees Galway and Waterford square off in a novel All-Ireland final pairing.

Though the game appears on the surface as a unique final, these two sides haven’t come from nowhere. Underage games have seen the sides clash on numerous occasions over the past ten years.

Galway have been a regular powerhouse at underage for as long as we can remember. Some argue that the draw is favourable to the Tribesmen at underage levels, but it takes a special side to claim All-Ireland titles.

Waterford, of course, have been on the rise at underage levels over the past decade too. This rise in standard has clearly benefitted their senior side and 2017 has been evidence of such.

With Waterford’s rise and Galway’s consistency, it was inevitable that the sides would clash. We’ve picked three games that have had a heavy influence on Sunday’s affair.


3. 2009 Minor All-Ireland Semi-Final

First up, we go eight years back to a minor All-Ireland semi-final clash between the duo. Having captured their first Munster title at the grade, the Déise were on a high. But Galway possessed a special side and were quietly confident of ending the hype in the south-east.

As it turns out, Galway emerged victorious rather comfortably. The Tribesmen would also go on to capture the Irish Press cup on the first Sunday in September that year. While Waterford fell short, there was optimism taken from clear progress at the grade.

The Galway side would prove highly successful in terms of transition to senior as a staggering eight of the starting 15 feature in Micheál Donoghue’s panel this Sunday. Notably, hurlers such as Johnny Coen, Daithi Burke, Niall Burke and Joseph Cooney stand out.

For Waterford, the figure is similar, though marginally less. Six of the Déise panel this Sunday featured in this clash with the Mahony brothers, Jake Dillon, Darragh Fives and Stephen O’Keeffe all set to start for Derek McGrath’s outfit this Sunday.


2. 2013 Minor All-Ireland Final

Next up we rewind four years to the All-Ireland minor final between the two sides. The Déise on this occasion reached the final through the back door having being defeated by Limerick in the Munster final. Galway had defeated the same Limerick side and entered the clash as slight favourites.

The odds proved misleading on this occasion, however, as a talented Waterford outfit clicked to land a first All-Ireland title at the grade in 65 years. Galway were extremely competitive until a Patrick Curran goal killed off the game as a contest.

It’s well-known that this Waterford side, led by current under-21 manager Sean Power, has benefitted the senior set-up greatly. Similar to the Galway side of 2009, eight players to feature that day are in Derek McGrath’s panel this Sunday, including 2016 Hurler and Young Hurler of the Year Austin Gleeson.

This side hasn’t proved quite as fruitful just yet for Micheál Donoghue with just two of the starting 15 making the progression to the Galway senior set-up. Though one of the pair is almost guaranteed to become Young Hurler of the Year for 2017 as Conor Whelan has been outstanding this year.


1. 2016 Under-21 All-Ireland Final

Unsurprisingly, three years later both these sides once again found themselves facing off as they met in the All-Ireland final at under 21 level. On this occasion, Waterford entered the game as heavy favourites having steamrolled their way through the championship.

The bookies had it right this time around as Waterford proved far too strong for a spirited Galway outfit. It must be said Galway did do all they could to make this game competitive and had a Brian Molloy attempt at a goal found its way to the net, who knows what could have happened.

Though McGrath famously compared this final to the Vauxhall Conference league, it has proven extremely beneficial to his panel. Eleven players to feature in this final will board the Waterford bus this Sunday as the Déise head for Croke Park.

Though Galway were outclassed on this occasion, the side has provided some talent to the senior set-up. Four of the players who featured last September will be hoping to take home All-Ireland medals this Sunday, including super-sub Thomas Monaghan.

Kevin Daly, Pundit Arena

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.