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'We Were All Just Finishing Our Confirmation When It Started': How The Kerry Minors Made GAA History

'We Were All Just Finishing Our Confirmation When It Started': How The Kerry Minors Made GAA History

On paper, yesterday's Electric Ireland GAA Minor Football Final appeared to offer a similar script to its senior equivalent. Going for an unprecedented five-in-a-row, few were willing to look beyond Peter Keane's Kerry. It was a sensation Jim Gavin's Dublin could surely relate to.

No slouches themselves when it comes to minor level, Galway nevertheless would have it all to do. Finalists in 2016, it had been Kerry who denied them that day and, like Mickey Harte's Tyrone, it was felt that something special would be required if there was to be an early upset in Croke Park.

In the end, neither game deviated too far from the pre-match scripts - in principle, anyway. While Kerry celebrated their outstanding achievement, Galway will have been left wondering how they possibly let this opportunity slip from their grasp.

Scoring 1-7 without reply in a 15-minute spell midway through the first-half, Galway's sluggish start to proceedings hadn't seemed to trouble them all that much. Leading 1-9 to 0-8 at the half-time break, Galway delivered a solid second-half performance that was only truly undone during the seven allotted minutes of injury-time.

These young Tribesmen will be confident, however, that they are moving in the right direction, and, as manager Donal Ó Fátharta said after this disappointing defeat; "You don't get anything easy." Such a defeat is likely to only serve their chances of improving the next time these sides meet.

Kerry

On the back of one of the most gripping Electric Ireland GAA Minor Football Finals in recent memory, three players especially stood out to the panel of Sean Cavanagh and Daniel Goulding. Visit the Electric Ireland Facebook page to vote in the final Minor Footballer of the Week poll of the season.

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Killian Falvey (Kerry)

Kerry

Man-of-the-Match on a landmark day for Kerry football, Killian Falvey's 0-4 from play may not quite resemble the 4-4 last year's man-of-the-match David Clifford scored, yet, when his team needed him, Falvey delivered.

Along with Paul O'Shea and Paul Walsh, this trio of forwards caused Galway problems throughout. Yet, when the game threatened to get away from Kerry in the dying moments, both Falvey and Walsh were among the scorers when Kerry laid out a late 0-5 salvo to seal the monumental victory.

Speaking after Sunday's match-winning performance, Falvey wasn't shy about remembering all of those who had made this five-in-a-row possible:

Five-in-a-row is a bonus like, but it's no bearing on us. We were all just finishing our confirmation when it started, so it's one-in-a-row really for ourselves.

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When Kerry showed the extent of their capabilities in the seven allotted minutes of injury-time, it seemed fitting that the Annascaul man would fire over the final point to make the job - and the drive-for-five - complete.

Darragh Rahilly (Kerry)

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Kerry

Something of a colossus in the Kerry midfield, Darragh Rahilly was instrumental in helping his side find their balance again after Galway's first-half onslaught.

As the Tribesmen established what at one stage became a 1-8 to 0-4 lead, Kerry were in desperate need of gaining a foothold in a game that looked to be getting away from them.

Keeping Galway within closer touching distance than their play possibly deserved at half-time, it was in the second-half particularly where the Rathmore man came into his own.

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Hitting 0-3 from play, Rahilly landed a monster-kick on the cusp of the 60-minute mark that would provide Kerry with a lead heading into injury-time.

Although Galway would find themselves able to draw level, Kerry would never fall behind again after Rahilly's impressive effort.

A domineering presence in the Kerry set-up, this success only serves to offer the perfect finish to what has been a hugely promising year for Rahilly in the Electric Ireland minor football championship.

Matthew Cooley (Galway)

Galway

One of Galway's star players throughout the county's run to yesterday's Electric Ireland minor football final, Matthew Cooley accounted for 0-5 of Galway's 1-14.

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As Galway built up what appeared to be a decisive lead during the first-half, their designated free-taker Cooley had hit a combined 0-4 and driven the young Tribesmen to the right side of a commanding 1-8 to 0-4 scoreline.

Man-of-the-match when Galway secured the Connacht championship against Roscommon in mid-July, the Corofin man demonstrated on Sunday that the prospect of playing in Croke Park scarcely fazed him. This beautifully weighted effort was certainly testament to that.

Yet, as Kerry began to turn the screw late on in the first-half, there was nothing much Cooley could do to halt the switch of pace.

Speaking post-match, Galway's manager Donal Ó Fátharta lamented the number of chances Galway spurned when the going was good, and, Cooley will be among those who will look back on this final some regrets, perhaps.

However, having had a stellar year in the minor championship, Galway and Cooley will be confident that the best is yet to come.

Have your say and cast your vote for the player of the week nominees on Electric Ireland's Facebook page by clicking here. All nominated players will be in with a chance of making overall team/player of the year at the 2018 Electric Ireland GAA Minor Star Awards.  

Arthur James O'Dea

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