'There's an intensity there, lads want to get in the 26'
Galway go in search of their third All-Ireland minor hurling title in four seasons under Jeffrey Lynskey tomorrow but for the manager, it's more important where they go to after they graduate from his care.
Lynskey took charge of the Tribesmen's minor side from Mattie Murphy, who delivered titles on a regular basis.
Those were big shoes to fill but he has hit the ground running and that's not by chance either. Lynskey reckons the current Galway minor team have trained more than 100 times this year.
"Part of the reason I got the job was because I was there so long with the academy," Lynskey says, ahead of their final duel with Kilkenny.
"I'm there since 2008/2009 with U-15s, U-16s, U-17s. It's like anything else. What I try and do is develop hurlers so they're ready to go to U-21 and then obviously go on to senior.
So Sean Loftus, Tom Monaghan, Jack Coyne, them type of lads, they're the lads who I would have started with near enough to seven, eight years ago now. They're pushing on and making a stamp on senior.
"Did I see three All-Irelands in four years? Probably not, to be perfectly honest with you. But we work hard. We work incredibly hard.
"As a group we're back since January 4. So this will be our 16th game, regarding challenges and championship. The lads have done 100-plus sessions. In Galway we're kind of lucky in the way the number of players that we have."
Given the nature of the grade change is a fact of life, but the regrading of the competition back to U-17 brings different challenges.
"We focus on concentration. I work in a teaching environment, I'm a school teacher. So you'll see it. Two or three of the lads are only in second year," he explains.
"So when we're doing a video analysis session, you need to tear it back completely. The concentration levels wouldn't be there.
"You can even watch them in games, in challenge matches. You can see they have to reset and stuff, they're switched off.
"So you're trying to do it in the coaching sessions, engage the mind for a long period."
The change in format saw Galway were pitched into a three-team group with beaten Munster and Leinster provincial finalists, Limerick and Kilkenny.
"We learned an awful lot from the two games. Subsequently, we made three switches for the Dublin match. We could make changes again for the next day," he explains.
"What that does is it creates a vibe within the group that this is on performances, it's not on past performances. It gives it an edge. Even with kids, or senior players, you need to have an edge in training.
"When lads are getting complacent or comfortable, standards drop. So I can see from the game on Sunday, training last night, there was intensity in it because lads want to get in the 26."
Galway won both games to top the group and again renew rivalry with the Noresiders, who toppled Munster champions Tipperary in their semi-final.
"We played them in the round-robin but it's like anything else, it's a new game, it's nil-nil," stresses Lynskey.
"We had a seven-point margin on them but they've, like ourselves, tweaked and improved since then. It's Kilkenny in an All-Ireland final, it's a one-off game.
"It's a bit like ourselves last year, we weren't probably favourites. Cork were raging-hot favourites last year and we turned them over.
"Richie (Mulrooney) has been there like myself for a good while, he was there in '08, '09 and '10 in three finals, so he brings that experience with him."
Galway v Kilkenny,
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