Cork v Galway: All-Ireland minor hurling final in Thurles on Saturday night

The Tribe are closing in on five in a row even if Cork have impressed to date
Cork v Galway: All-Ireland minor hurling final in Thurles on Saturday night

Mikey Finn of Cork in action against Peter Cummins of Waterford. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

FOR all the talk of a Rebel treble across the past week, Galway quietly slipped into the minor All-Ireland final to go with their appearance in the U20 decider.

The game has been fixed for Saturday night at 7.15pm in Thurles, while the Cork minor footballers take on Tyrone in the All-Ireland semi-final at 2.30pm in Tullamore. Both ties will be screened on TG4.

Where the Tribe U20s had to land the Leinster crown to progress, they went in cold in the All-Ireland minor semi-final against Kilkenny. The Cats' minors had a provincial campaign behind them, yet Galway were in control from the off at Semple Stadium despite the lack of a game. 

They led 0-6 to 0-2 after 17 minutes. Now, Danny Glennon could have had a couple of goals, the crossbar and goalkeeper Darragh Walsh repelling him, but the gap was six points at half-time, 0-12 to 0-6, and ultimately eight: 0-23 to 1-12.

That, and the fact Galway are one win away from an incredible five minors in a row, should sharpen Cork minds ahead of the All-Ireland.

Tribe full-back Tiernan Leen was impressive in the semi-final and will no doubt pick up Cork sharpshooter Jack Leahy in the final. 

Cork's Jack Leahy and Waterford's Conor Keane. Picture: INPHO/Ken Sutton
Cork's Jack Leahy and Waterford's Conor Keane. Picture: INPHO/Ken Sutton

The Rebels could need Eoin O'Leary and Diarmuid Healy to pick up the scoring slack closer to goal, while the hard-running from roaming number 15 William Buckley and wing-forward Tadhg O'Connell will be critical too.

In many quarters, Noel Furlong's side are strong favourites. They obliterated Clare in the opener, by a remarkable 40 points, but were also 10 and 11 points better than Limerick and Waterford respectively. 

As a clearly gifted group, having collected tournament trophies at U14 and U15, there was a bit of hype about them before a sliotar was pucked this summer. Nothing in the Munster series changed that, but with the grade now U17, anything could happen in a final.

Joint captain Ben O'Connor and James Dwyer lead the team across a powerhouse half-back line completed by Timmy Wilk, the only U16 starter. Midfielders Cillian Tobin and Mikey Finn provide the platform for possession sweeping back around Dwyer, O'Connor and Wilk. 

Oisin Lohan, Micheal Power, Darragh Neary and John Cosgrove shared 10 points between them for Galway against Kilkenny, suggesting they have a greater scoring spread then the Rebels faced in the Munster championship ties. 

The counties met in a challenge earlier this summer, which Cork won. However, Galway were without the crew training with last year's minor panel ahead of the delayed 2020 All-Ireland final. 

You wouldn't be reading much into a challenge but it might plant a seed of doubt in Galway's minds. Clearly though, the Connacht county aren't short of confidence at this age.

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