Gal­way mi­nors al­ready show­ing huge prom­ise

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Sport - - GAELIC GAMES - BACKPAGE@IN­DE­PEN­DENT.IE

GAL­WAY have pro­duced some ter­rific mi­nor teams, but there looks to be some­thing spe­cial about the one which takes on Kilkenny to­day. Jef­frey Lynskey’s side have won their three matches so far by a whop­ping av­er­age of 11 points.

The most im­pres­sive vic­tory was a 3-22 to 0-16 de­struc­tion of highly-rated Le­in­ster cham­pi­ons Dublin in the semi-fi­nal, while they’ve al­ready scored a seven-point win over Kilkenny in the round robin quar­ter-fi­nal stage.

Play­ers to look out for as they bid to make it three wins in four years are live-wire cor­ner-for­ward Dean Reilly from Pádraig Pearses, who has notched 2-7 from play in his last two games, out­stand­ing Gort mid­fielder Ja­son O’Donoghue, and dead-ball ex­pert Donal O’Shea, son of former Tip­per­ary man­ager Ea­mon, who has scored 1-27 in the cham­pi­onship so far.

Hav­ing lost to Dublin and Gal­way ear­lier on, Kilkenny scored a shock win over Mun­ster cham­pi­ons Tip­per­ary in the semis and their up­set hopes may rest with bril­liant Bal­lyraggett full-for­ward Jack Mor­ris­sey and O’Lough­lin Gaels mid­fielder Conor Kelly who starred on this year’s All-Ire­land-win­ning St Kieran’s Col­lege team.

IT seems like a long time ago now but there was some very good stuff played in the in­au­gu­ral Joe McDon­agh Cup which saw Car­low pro­moted to the se­nior hurl­ing cham­pi­onship for next year. It’s a pity the com­pe­ti­tion seemed to get a bit lost in terms of cov­er­age.

Car­low sub­se­quently took a heavy beat­ing from Lim­er­ick but run­ners-up West­meath’s 11-point de­feat by Wex­ford was an hon­ourable ef­fort. It cer­tainly sug­gested that Of­faly, who got a 24-point ham­mer­ing from the Slaneysiders, don’t have much of a case when sug­gest­ing that play­ing in the 2019 Joe McDon­agh Cup will be some­how be­neath them.

Down the pyra­mid, wins for Kil­dare, Done­gal and Sligo in the Christy Ring, Lory Meagher and Nicky Rackard Cups will pro­vide some en­cour­age­ment for those en­gaged in the noble and frus­trat­ing pur­suit of try­ing to keep the game go­ing in the fron­tier out­posts.

FAIR play to the mem­bers of the 1,450 Club. That’s how many spec­ta­tors were at the Gaelic Grounds when Lim­er­ick be­gan their sea­son by de­feat­ing Laois 1-25 to 0-18 in their open­ing Di­vi­sion 1B match.

It’s ac­tu­ally a smaller fig­ure than last year’s av­er­age home at­ten­dance for be­lea­guered League of Ire­land side Lim­er­ick FC. Gal­way’s at­ten­dance against Antrim in Pearse Sta­dium was a bit bet­ter, but 3,977 was low enough con­sid­er­ing it was their first home game since win­ning the 2017 All-Ire­land.

Those fig­ures mean that an ab­so­lute max­i­mum of slightly more than 5,000 Gal­way and Lim­er­ick fans have seen ev­ery one of their team’s games this sea­son. I hope they all got tick­ets. The dif­fer­ence be­tween the much-vaunted big sum­mer crowds and the rel­a­tively pal­try at­ten­dances at the start of the sea­son seems a uniquely GAA thing. It’s as if teams open their sea­son in the League of Ire­land and fin­ish it in the Cham­pi­ons League. I’d pre­fer a league match to a home­com­ing my­self.

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