Young: U-21 grade shop window for senior coaches

YOUNG Footballer of the Year Killian Young could have another title before his name tomorrow evening.

Victory over the Kildare in Thurles will mean the Renard man becomes an All-Ireland U21 winning captain — the first Kerryman to claim that crown in ten years. The honour aside, Young is a huge fan of the grade which has been fighting for its life in the GAA calendar. “It’s a very fast campaign, it is brilliant,” he reasoned.

“You play one game and once you win, it’s another game in two weeks. You can go away and enjoy training.

“It’s not dragged out for half the year. All you want to do is play games and you’ll get plenty opportunities for that.”

He also agrees the competition opens a window of opportunity for many youngsters to take the next, big step to senior ranks.

“It gives Pat O’Shea time to see what’s coming through. You don’t see much in challenge games and training — it’s in the championship that you get the best out of players.”

While keeping one eye on the prospects of the senior team in the League final, the entire focus for the past fortnight has been on the game with Kildare, with Young agreeing that he was ‘better off’ not to be involved in both set-ups.

“You wouldn’t know if you were coming or going with training and the whole lot,’ he added.

In the meantime, he recognises the challenge in winning back his place in the senior team. “I know it’s going to be very difficult. I know I have to improve my game and that’s going to bring me on another bit hopefully.”

Apart from the honour of captaining the team, he’s also looking forward to what will be a first visit to Semple Stadium, very much aware of the ground’s history and its reputation of the best playing surface outside of Croke Park.

While he treasures his All-Ireland senior medal, Young wants to end his career in under-age ranks with a meaningful award. Losing the minor final to Tyrone in 2004 is something he ‘still regrets’ and it’s another motivating factor to be on the winning side in Thurles.

“There are a lot of people saying that there are still players coming through and that it’s not that much of a worry (that Kerry last won in 1998).

“But you still want silverware and you still want All-Ireland medals in your pocket. That’s what it is all about.”

While Tipperary got within two points of them in the Munster final and Mayo also pushed them hard in the All-Ireland semi-final, he points out that all four games in the campaign were difficult.

“Hopefully we’ll perform in the final. We scraped through in four games and we got to an All-Ireland final. That might be a good thing, but we actually came out of those games disappointed. We said before the Mayo game that ‘this is the time to come right,’ but we only played in spells and came away disappointed. We were back to the drawing board last week. Hopefully we’ll go out and play decent football. Kildare are a good strong physical team and very fit. They worked very hard for each other, they were dogged and they kicked some fabulous points.

“We’d be very wary of them!”


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