Monaghan hopes senior experience will count for Galway U-21s
Galway U-21 star Thomas Monaghan has enjoyed a productive campaign in his debut season with the senior squad. He was particularly impressive against Waterford during the National League, and chipped in with a point off the bench during Galway's Leinster SHC final victory over Wexford.
The timing of his arrival into Micheál Donoghue's squad has been quite fortunate considering their success so far in the championship. And the Craughwell player is happy to continue developing in such a positive environment.
"It's been great just to get the experience of playing championship hurling with Galway at senior level. At the beginning of the year when I got the call from Micheál it was great. You'd nearly be shocked at first but then you put the head down and try and get to work and improve.
"It's just brilliant to be able to train and be part of the set-up with lads you've been looking up to for so long.
"You finally get to see that you can compete at that level with these guys and gives you a bit of confidence that way.
"Each day you go to training or go to a match with lads like that, you're always learning. You're just picking up the little things that they do and they give you the little pockets of advice here and there as well. That's a huge help to hear it coming from them."
The championship season is almost through with August, but the Galway U-21s are preparing for just their first competitive outing of the year today.
Galway underage sides have always managed to compete at All-Ireland level despite the absence of provincial hurling in the past. More recently, their minor team qualified for the All-Ireland final on the back of a marginal win over Kilkenny.
But having experienced how the seniors are thriving in Leinster, Monaghan has come to understand how regular provincial games could help hurling evolve in Galway.
"I think it is a bit frustrating because you only see when you're with the seniors, the development that a team makes throughout the year.
"The U-21s are training all through winter and I think that the U-21s and minors should be placed in a provincial championship. It's tough coming in at the end of August after training for a whole summer, and not knowing exactly where the team is at. But the challenge matches and in-house games help to give an indication of where you're going."
Galway will finally get their Bord Gáis Energy GAA Hurling U-21 championship under way this evening with an All-Ireland semi-final at Semple Stadium against a Limerick side who earned their semi-final spot on the back of a tight victory over Cork in the Munster decider.
And with the Shannonsiders on the hunt for a second All-Ireland U-21 crown in three years, Monaghan is gearing up for a stiff challenge.
"No matter who you're playing, you treat them with the same respect and you approach each game the same.
"Limerick are a fantastic team and the amount of players they have in the senior team, I think nearly seven or eight have senior championship experience. And they obviously have a lot of games played.
"They've come through a tough Munster Championship and from that experience, they know their team, they've played championship games and I think the more games you get, the better you become."