Saturday’s BGE All-Ireland Hurling U-21 semi-finals saw Waterford and Galway run out winners. There were some fine displays on show from all teams. Here, we name five of the most prominent performers.
Waterford’s victory over Antrim was marred by the facile nature of the win. Waterford were 2-05 to 0-00 up inside the first fifteen minutes, which put an end to the tie as a contest. Antrim’s participation at this level must be re-assessed. The Saffron county should be allowed participate in the Leinster championship at this level.
For Waterford, it was a case of job done. Austin Gleeson shone from centre-back while up front Patrick Curran, Stephen Bennett and DJ Foran all impressed.
Galway and Dublin played out a far more entertaining spectacle, which ultimately ended in a win for the Tribesmen after extra-time. The likes of Cian Boland and Eoghan O’Donnell shone for the Dubs while Seán Loftus, Shane Cooney, Éanna Burke, Thomas Monaghan and man-of-the-match Brian Molloy were superb for Galway.
Patrick Curran (Waterford)
Being joint-captain and a renowned senior hurler brings an added sense of pressure to the table when playing U-21 hurling. However, Curran has dealt admirably with the task of leading Waterford’s forward line in this grade. The Dungarvan man shot 2-7 on Saturday for the Déise as they eased past Antrim on a scoreline of 5-25 to 1-08.
Stephen Bennett (Waterford)
Bennett was named TG4’s man-of-the-match after the Déise’s impressive dismantling of Antrim. The Ballysaggart man definitely scored 1-1 while it is disputed if Bennett got the final flick on a Tom Devine shot. The senior star put in an all action performance. The 21 year-old was everywhere for Seán Power’s men. His vision and range of passing were a joy to behold.
Brian Molloy (Galway)
Brian Molloy was Galway’s hero On Saturday. The captain and free-taker scored ten crucial points for the Tribesmen as they claimed a first win at U-21 level for five years. His four extra-time points swung the tie in favour of the Westerners as they set up a final date with the Déise on the 10th of September.
Seán Loftus (Galway)
Last year’s All-Ireland minor winning captain was superb at wing-back for the Tribesmen on Saturday evening. Stylish and composed on the ball, Loftus was at the heart of a lot of Galway’s best plays. His decision-making and hurling ability are two of the Galway man’s best traits. Loftus looked at home in Thurles and is likely to become a senior star in the near future.
Eoghan O’Donnell (Dublin)
O’Donnell’s displays at U-21 and senior level this year for the Dubs have been superb. Saturday was no different for the Whitehall-Colmcille man. O’Donnell kept tabs on Galway star Conor Whelan to great effect. O’Donnell is set to become a mainstay in the Dublin senior side for years to come.
Seán Ó Murchú, Pundit Arena