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Majestic Meath And Dogged Galway: Two Counties Dreaming Of A Minor Final

Majestic Meath And Dogged Galway: Two Counties Dreaming Of A Minor Final
By Arthur James O'Dea Updated

As the Electric Ireland Minor Football Championship enters its penultimate round of games, both Galway and Meath will fancy their chances of booking a place in the All-Ireland final come early September. The Connacht and Leinster champions respectively, neither team has encountered a major disruption on their journey to this semi-final berth.

Without All-Ireland success at this level since 1992, ending their 10-year wait for provincial success will imbue Meath's belief that this lengthier drought can be assuaged in the same summer.

For Galway, provincial success has been easier to come by in recent years. Winning their fourth successive title this time out, that they have only reached an All-Ireland final in one of the last three attempts will be a sore point.

It's been 11 years since they last laid claim to the title. This year Galway's minors will be hoping that they can make it a double for the Tribesmen on September 2; although the little matter of Dublin will have to be outmaneuvered by the senior panel if this is to come to pass.

Coming into this year's Leinster championship in the knowledge that plenty of tough competitors separated them from a potential All-Ireland quarter-final, Meath have managed the difficulties of the province wonderfully.

Opening up their year with a comfortable defeat of neighbours Westmeath, it was round two where Meath set themselves apart. Welcoming Dublin to Páirc Tailteann, the Royal County pulled of a 1-13 to 2-8 win that set them on their way.

Beating Louth and Offaly before an inconsequential defeat to Wicklow, Meath overcame Laois to book their place in a Leinster final against Kildare. Strung out after their own semi-final against Wicklow had to be decided by a replay, Meath made short work of the Lilywhites.

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Given something of a scare by last year's All-Ireland finalists Derry when the quarter-finals came around, Meath nevertheless held their nerve to see off a late comeback.

Key to what has set this Meath team apart is corner-forward Luke Mitchell. Kicking 0-8 as the Royal County sealed their Leinster triumph, the Dunshaughlin man arguably delivered his finest performance in their defeat of Derry.

Securing a 1-15 to 1-10 win against the Ulster runners-up, Mitchell contributed 1-6; a tally that was as important in terms of when the scores came, that they came at all.

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As Derry whittled down Meath's comfortable lead to just a solitary point in the game's closing minutes, it was Mitchell who stepped up and scored three of the four points that would guarantee his side's five-point winning margin.

Mitchell is a tremendously gifted forward. Galway will be all too aware of the threat he carries.

In a similar fashion to Kerry in the alternate All-Ireland semi-final, Galway have made their run to this point in the Electric Ireland Minor Football Championship look almost routine.

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Making short work of Roscommon, Sligo and Leitrim, it was only Mayo who put it up to Galway in the Connacht championship; a 0-15 to 1-9 victory enough for Galway on the night.

A 2-13 to 2-9 win in the provincial final flattered the defeated Roscommon somewhat, and some complacency appeared to seep into Galway's game when they met Clare in Tullamore for the All-Ireland quarter-final.

Trailing by 0-8 before registering a score of their own, Galway nevertheless kicked into gear soon enough and looked convincing winners on an 0-18 to 0-11 scoreline.

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Possessing a strong spread of individual talent across the entirety of their team, Matthew Cooley and Tony Gill offer distinct threats at two different ends of the pitch.

Undoubtedly keen to make amends for what was a surprisingly quiet game in the defeat of Clare, Matthew Cooley had been tremendously important in helping Galway to reach this point.

Contributing an Electric Ireland Man of the Match winning performance in the Connacht final, the Corofin man grabbed an impressive 0-5 from play.

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At the opposite end of the pitch, Tony Gill delivered a masterful performance for the Tribesmen when their backs were pinned to the wall in that All-Ireland quarter-final.

Trailing by 0-8 before they got their act together, it was Gill from centre-half back who made a tremendous run from his own half to land a sensational equalising point. Settling the nerves, Galway never looked back.

With both Meath and Galway confident they have the measure of the other, one suspects much will come down to which set of forwards can triumph against two back-lines that don't tend to give a whole lot away.

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