Healy urges minor charges to 'enjoy the day'
Fergal Healy played in two senior and two minor All-Ireland hurling finals, and now as selector with the next generation of Galway minors he is confident that this team can do their part in winning a first three-in-a-row for the county.
Healy and former inter-county team-mate Declan O'Brien are manager Brian Hanley's selectors, and after a convincing run to the final their talented team of youngsters face Kilkenny in the decider, a county looking to end a five-year streak without a title at the grade.
Healy's first taste of Croke Park came in the 1993 final against Kilkenny, which ended in a five-point defeat for the Tribesmen, although he started against Cork a year later when Galway were crowned champions for a third time.
Under the guidance of Mattie Murphy and Jeffrey Lynskey, Galway have enjoyed plenty of success since then at minor level and a win tomorrow will give them a 13th victory; in such a pressurised environment, Healy's message will be simple.
"Go out and enjoy it is what we'd be saying to the lads the whole time. We'd all swap places with them in a heartbeat. It only feels like yesterday we were playing. Embrace it, enjoy the weekend thoroughly," says Healy.
"They're young lads, they are getting a huge opportunity. This group, this is their third game in Croke Park in the space of six weeks, so as far as they're concerned, I think they appreciate how lucky they are. Obviously we'll be giving them a little bit of instruction here and there but generally the main message will be to enjoy the experience."
Galway earned their place in the All-Ireland final after their nine-point victory over Wexford in the last round, which was just their third game of the summer. One of those games was a 3-16 to 2-16 win over Kilkenny on their first day out, and that game was only decided in the closing stages after Galway fought off a strong Kilkenny revival.
On the other hand Kilkenny were very convincing in their 12-point triumph against Limerick in the last four. Tomorrow Richie Mulrooney's young Cats will play their ninth championship game of the summer and even since they faced Galway on July 14 they have been gradually improving.
Playing on All-Ireland semi-final day with 61,852 on their way into Croke Park to see Wexford and Tipperary was an excellent preparation for Galway, but Healy hopes they can deliver their best tomorrow.
"It's a great experience, it's something you'll always cherish and remember. Win or lose, it's a massive experience, and they'll learn from it. As young lads they'll grow from it. Ultimately, we're only trying to help them get to senior - on to U-20 next year with Jeffrey (Lynskey) and then to go on from that. Hopefully we can help them along the way in some little bit anyway.
"Hopefully we'll win it and no doubt we'll be confident and we'll have enough done. We have great belief in the whole lot of them.
"They have a great chance and if they win they win; if they don't they go back to their clubs and schools again and they'll go again for next year. They are young guys it will be a good experience for them regardless of the result."
Galway have been handed a huge boost with their captain Ian McGlynn freed to play after their appeal of his red card in the semi-final was successful, while full-forward Shane Morgan remains a doubt due to a rib injury sustained in the same game.