The Tribesmen scored an extra-time win over Limerick in last year’s semi-final, the contest, however, was overshadowed by a technical glitch with the score detection system.
A Hawk-Eye error saw Barry Nash’s legitimate point inside the opening minute declared a ‘miss’. The sides finished level — 0-15 apiece — at the end of normal time, Galway emerging victorious after the two additional periods. The Limerick County Board subsequently appealed the outcome, but the result was upheld.
“I can see the players using last year as motivation. They want to get to an All-Ireland final and they are up to the task,” insists Ryan. “Obviously you don’t want the players thinking too much this week about what happened last year, the Hawk-Eye controversy and all that.
I was on the record last year saying of the 15 first-half scoring chances we had, we took eight. Hawk-Eye was just one incident, we had other chances.
Limerick enter tomorrow’s clash off the back of a second successive Munster title, a ringing endorsement, says Ryan, of the underage hurling academy established in 2011. “It was important to cement our underage standing. “Munster titles are not regular visitors to Limerick so it was important just to get some silverware.
“For the overall underage set-up it was massively important and for these young players going to Croke Park it gives them the required confidence. “We coughed up a sizeable lead in the drawn game, but I don’t think momentum had gone from us going into the Munster final replay.
“We had played some excellent hurling and 3-10 out of our 3-14 was from play.
“Unfortunately we were caught in the last minute.
Thankfully we had the composure the second time around to close out the result. The strong finish in the replay where we outscored Waterford 0-9 to 0-1 in the final quarter was most impressive.
“If we can bring that period of hurling to Croke Park on Sunday it will stand us in good stead. The investment at underage in Limerick is beginning to pay rich dividends. It is a collaborative effort between the County Board, Board na nÓg and everyone else involved.
“People have bought into this system. Limerick have had some excellent minor teams these last ten years, but have never reaped the rewards.
“Now we are making our talent count.”
Tomorrow’s path is blocked by Galway and Ryan is wary of opposing manager Mattie Murphy’s ability to churn out All-Ireland winning minor teams.
“They talk about Brian Cody being the outstanding senior hurling manager of the last 15 years, Mattie Murphy has been similarly flawless at minor level for Galway.
He has perfected the art of producing top class minor teams.”
GALWAY: G Loughnane (Loughrea); D Cronin (Cappataggle), O Coyle (Loughrea), S Roche (Kilnadeema Liatram); R Doyle (Turloughmore), J Holland (Turloughmore), R Bellew (Padraig Pearses); D Nevin (Cappataggle), K McHugo (Tommie Larkins); C Whelan (Kinvara), D Mangan (Kilconieron), S Linnane (Turlough); J Grealish (Gort), B Burke (Killimordaly), C Shaughnessy (Turloughmore).
LIMERICK: Eoghan McNamara (Doon), Sean Finn (Bruff), Paddy O Loughlin (Kilmallock), Jamie Porter (Monaleen), Colin Ryan (Pallasgreen), Andrew La Touche Cosgrave (Monaleen), Conor Byrnes (Murroe/Boher), Robbie Hanley (Kilmallock), Ronan Lynch (Vice Captain)(Na Piarsaigh), Seamus Flanagan (Feohanagh/Castlemahon), Barry Nash (South Liberties), Cian Lynch (Captain)(Patrickswell), Peter Casey (Na Piarsaigh). Tom Morrissey (Ahane) and Conor Fitzgerald (Claughaun).