Joyce aiming to put heat on Dubs
AMID all the doom and gloom about Galway's senior hurlers and footballers these days, one point seems to have been largely overlooked.
Tomorrow, Dublin's minor footballers are bidding to get the Blues into a fourth All-Ireland final this season, yet so too are Galway's.
The Tribesmen have already annexed the U-21 football title and have also already reached the U-21 and minor hurling finals (both against the Dubs) and now comes another showdown with the city slickers to see who will meet Tipperary in this year's minor football decider.
"Yeah, things aren't too bad alright, there is lots of work being done behind the scenes," says Galway minor football boss Tommie Joyce, a man who is no stranger to big days at both club and county level.
Joyce got the job after leading his club Killererin to a county title last season as player/manager.
Former county underage star John Concannon is among his back-room team that also includes Terry O'Regan and Mick Culhane. And Joyce is relishing his new role for the county, despite the backlash that followed a disappointing Connacht final performance.
"The great thing was that there was a back door, that we had another chance," Joyce says. "And that is the thing with minors, you really don't know, from one performance to the next, how they will perform.
"But these are a great bunch of lads, they gathered themselves after losing to Roscommon, got past Cavan in the quarter-final and now have a crack at Dublin and can't wait to get into it."
They face a team already saddled with a raging 'favourites' tag. Dublin include powerful dual stars like Ciaran Kilkenny, Cormac Costello and Emmett O Conghaile and are managed by an iconic local figure in Dessie Farrell.
But Joyce believes Galway have one valuable asset. "Sometime's you're better off losing and getting another chance at it because we've learned some lessons from that loss," he says. "We also learnt that we were able to cope and come back when things didn't go our way.
"Dublin have absolutely steamrolled everyone this season, they've been outstanding, but no one has actually put them under any real pressure.
"Our job will be to do that and then we'll see how well they react to something they haven't experienced before."
His young side racked up 4-13 against Leitrim but only scored a single point in the first half of the wind-swept Connacht final against Roscommon.
That 1-9 to 0-6 loss drew some heavy criticism, but a Sean Moran goal against Cavan proved vital and now, ironically, they have a chance to go one step better than the Rossies, who were knocked out by Tipp last week. They feature eight of the strong St Jarlath's team that was only pipped by a point by St Colman's, Newry, in this year's All-Ireland Schools (Hogan Cup) final.
They include Sean Armstong's brother Gearoid and two serious prospects in full-back James Shaughnessy and centre-forward Shane Walsh, the latter just marginally outshone by Aussie Rules target Caolan Mooney in the schools decider.
Of their starters, Shaughnessy, Shane Maughan and Conor Rabbitte are survivors from last year's minor team, who scored five goals in an All-Ireland semi-final against Cork yet somehow still lost. Minor success rarely translates onto the senior stage, but it surely helps. Galway won four Connacht minor titles in a row from 2002 to '05 and reached the last two All-Ireland semi-finals despite losing Connacht finals. They last won an All-Ireland minor title in 2007.
U-21 success is a much better barometer for senior potential and Galway, encouragingly, won All-Ireland U-21 titles in 2002, 2005 and this year to give real cause for optimism. The chance to win an underage football double in 2011 is one they will not give up easily.
DUBLIN -- R O'Hanlon; G Hannigan, R McDaid, R Real; E Lowndes, J Small, J McCaffrey; P O'Higgins, E O'Conghaile; C Costello, C Kilkenny, G Ivory; S Fulham, P Mannion, D Campbell.
GALWAY -- C Gleeson; A Nolan, J Shaughnessy, E Murray; E Walsh, C Cunningham, C Mulryan; S Maughan, G Canavan; S Moran, S Walsh, P Glynn; G Armstrong, I Burke, C Rabbitte.