Two games not enough to develop Galway minors, says boss Brian Hanley 

'There is no real development in this for anyone in Galway because you get one shot and that is it, whereas if you are a Kilkenny or Cork coming in, you have two or three games already played'
Two games not enough to develop Galway minors, says boss Brian Hanley 

'There is no real development in this for anyone in Galway because you get one shot and that is it, whereas if you are a Kilkenny or Cork coming in, you have two or three games already played'

A minor championship that provides a maximum of two games offers zero room to develop young players, Galway minor hurling manager Brian Hanley has said.

Reigning champions Galway begin their 2021 minor campaign at the All-Ireland semi-final stage this evening (Semple Stadium, 7.30pm), with Hanley admitting he would have preferred if the young Tribes entered the competition at a much earlier stage so as to allow far greater scope for development.

“Galway, for years, used to enter at the All-Ireland semi-final stage, but this is why we looked to move away — and did move away — from that because underage is about developing players.

“There is no real development in this for anyone in Galway because you get one shot and that is it, whereas if you are a Kilkenny or Cork coming in, you have two or three games already played, which gives young lads a chance.

“I remember being in this exact situation as a selector with the Galway U21s in 2009. We got beaten by Clare after extra-time in the All-Ireland semi-final, our first game of the championship, and you were thinking after that if we could pick the team again what changes would be made because you learn so much in a championship match. These are all the reasons why we looked to get away from that.”

With last year’s campaign finishing only a month ago, Hanley said the job of balancing the 2020 and 2021 panels at the same time “actually helped in a strange way”.

“We kept last year’s panel to 28 to reduce the risk of Covid entering the camp and then we’d dovetail six or seven in from this year’s panel because we couldn’t get challenge matches. Getting to look at this year’s panellists playing a stronger and older player helped.”

The Galway team for this evening’s semi-final against Kilkenny shows one survivor — goalkeeper Darragh Walsh — from the starting 15 that overcame the same county in last month’s delayed 2020 decider. Three more members of the team, full-back Tiernan Leen, centre-back Diarmuid Davoren, and half-forward Darren Shaughnessy, were all used off the bench in the 2020 decider.

“Eight from last year’s panel are eligible again this year. That means those eight have got 18 months of exposure to what we do and so they should be further down the road than others. Because of that, we'd be leaning on them a good bit to carry the rest of the group and to push it for us."

GALWAY: D Walsh (Turloughmore); M Tarpey (Turloughmore), T Leen (Craughwell), J O’Connor (Kinvara); D Dunne (Clarinbridge), D Davoren (Moycullen), N Gill (Gort); J Ryan (Clarinbridge), C Lawless (Athenry); D Shaughnessy (Loughrea), M Power (Tynagh/Abbey-Duniry), R Burke (Oranmore-Maree); J Cosgrove (Sarsfields), D Neary (Castlegar), O Lohan (Skehana/Mountbellew-Moylough).

Subs: D Fahy (Ardrahan), C Whelan (Turloughmore), C Headd (St Thomas’), S Fitzpatrick (Ballinasloe), A Keady (Oranmore-Maree), T Nolan (Turloughmore), S Hansberry (Skehana/Mountbellew-Moylough), B Noone (Skehana/Mountbellew-Moylough), C Donoghue (Clarinbridge).

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