Minors have what it takes to claim yet another final berth

All Ireland MFC Semi-Final: Kerry v Galway, Sunday August 11, Croke Park, 1.30pm

Eoghan O'Sullivan of Kerry
Eoghan O'Sullivan of Kerry

Jason O'Connor

A third meeting between the two counties at minor level in the last four years, two of Kerry's 'five-in-a-row' when it comes to the Tommy Markham Cup has seen them beat the Tribesmen in the decider.

However, it's a different sideline this time for Kerry with Peter Keane and his group having moved up to senior level.

So far, so good for James Costello in assuming the managerial mantle but now with them back on billing with senior matches more of the county at large will cast their eyes upon this team and see can they match those that have gone before them.

Kerry do enter with one noticeable stat in their favour, of the four Semi-Finalists in these two 'Munster vs. Connacht' semi-finals they are only one of the four not to lose a match thus far, but Costello would like one thing Galway have had thus far in their campaign.

"Galway have had 10 games in their campaign thus far whereas we are only entering our fifth. That has given them far more room for development but I would be confident that there is an extra 20-30% in the players and that they can go up the gears with the open spaces in Croke Park probably suiting us more," Costello said of their All-Ireland Semi-Final opposition.

Goalkeeper Donie Halleran and Warren Seoige would be some of the players Galway have from last year as after it going right down to the wire in last year's decider between the two sides, another tight encounter will be expected between two of the game's most traditional counties.

"I would consider this a very traditional Galway side with top quality forwards and a big, strong, mobile midfield. They wouldn't appear to be as physical as Cork, but they appear to be a lot livelier," the Kerry Minor boss said. James McLaughlin and Nathan Grainger scored their goals at the start and finish of a 2-17 to 0-15 win over Kildare in their All-Ireland Quarter-Final in Longford the day prior to Kerry getting the better of Tyrone in Tullamore.

Costello believed the five-week gap between the Munster Final and All-Ireland Quarter-Final was a factor in their first-half performance against the Red Hand County as he welcomes a quick turnaround to the Semi-Final only two weeks later.

One noticeable feature of Kerry's campaign is how their defence appears to be improving with every game they play. Adam Curran, Luke Chester, Alan Dineen and Seán O'Brien have all had stand-out moments in the campaign so far with Joseph Lenihan having a good outing at midfield against Tyrone.

Dylan Geaney's performance in Tullamore was particularly impressive as well as he does appear to be using the experience of not only last year's minor success along with Paul McGirr and Corn Ui Mhuirí school successes with Pobalscoil Corcha Dhuibhne.

Geaney and Jack O'Connor have experienced Croke Park already from last year's campaign along with Dineen, Ronan Collins and the Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra Rathmore contingent who lost the Paddy Drummond Cup Final to Roscommon CBS there back in April.

Such experience of the venue may make the players more comfortable and less anxious about the Croke Park experience, but it still won't make the task of reaching an All-Ireland Final any easier.

The 2018 class had a white-knuckle ride with Monaghan at this stage before eventually pulling through last year and this could be something very similar once more.

That this 2019 side has managed to cope with adversity well so far is a source of encouragement ahead of them going to Croke Park. However, there is always the fear in leaving go down to the wire too much that someday they will come out on the wrong side of the result but winning definitely appears to be a habit for this particular side on the evidence of the year thus far.

Galway will give this everything in trying to get a win over Kerry at this level at the third time of asking in this present era, but the burden is still on them to do it when it comes to the heat of battle.

If Kerry cope with their mobility and dominate their own purple patches as their manager likes to refer to them as then the opportunity to go to Croke Park again on the first Sunday in September might well be there for these youngsters.

That chance to add their names to the unprecedented run of success at this level might just trump everything when it matters.

Verdict: Kerry

Kerryman

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