Kelly: Tribesmen’s joined-up thinking paying dividends

All-Ireland IHC final

Galway intermediate hurling selector Johnny Kelly says the county has benefited from a joined-up approach this summer.

Kelly held the role of U21 and intermediate manager last year, with the intermediate team that fell to Cork in the All-Ireland semi-final primarily made up of U21 players. Senior manager Anthony Cunningham expressed an interest in joining the intermediate managerial set-up for 2015, with this year’s team now drawing players from both the U21 and senior panels.

Intermediate goalkeeper James Skehill and corner-forward pair Shane Moloney and Brian Molloy were on the bench for Galway’s All-Ireland senior quarter-final win over Cork, while Conor Whelan, half-forward that afternoon in Thurles, lined out for the intermediates in the Leinster semi-final and final wins last month.

“On top of the senior panellists and lads like Tadhg Haran who has played senior in the past, we have Darragh O’Donoghue, Eanna Burke, Eamon Brannigan, Shane Cooney and Kevin McHugo who are all on the U21 panel,” Kelly explained ahead of tomorrow’s All-Ireland final against Cork at the Gaelic Grounds (7pm).

“We had tried in years previous to bring in extra players that wouldn’t be involved in the U21, but there wasn’t a great take up on that. Last year we agreed it would be beneficial to play the U21 team in the intermediate championship. Now we were beaten by Cork in the semi-final, but we got game-time for the lads.

“The big change this year was that we were allowed to play in the Leinster championship. It gave us the possibility of three games and that’s what has turned out.” Kelly believes participation in Leinster is the driving factor behind a first All-Ireland final appearance since 2005 — Galway last achieved outright success in 2002.

“It was a massive plus. What we wanted was for all teams to start the competition together so you are all starting on an equal footing. Galway played Kilkenny in the opening round of Leinster this summer as opposed to coming in late at the All-Ireland semi-finals. It is important we win on Saturday and hopefully it bodes well for an important for month for Galway hurling.”


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