Galway claimed the 2011 All-Ireland Under 21 title, with an easy 10 point victory over Cavan at Croke Park on Sunday afternoon. The Connacht side were always in control of affairs and with Mark Hehir playing a starring role, the Tribesmen were deserving victors.
Cavan opened the scoring through Niall Smith, but Galway were soon level thanks to Josh Moore. Barry Reilly restored the Ulster champions lead, but wing back Moore scored his second Galway point to restore parity between the teams. Cavan led for the third time shortly after; but that point from Jack Brady was to be the last time they led this game. Danny Cummins scored two quick points and Mark Hehir added another to give Galway a two point cushion.
A goal from full forward, Patrick Sweeney saw the tribesmen open up a commanding lead and with Hehir and Cummins adding further points, the lead increased to seven points.
Hehir scored another excellent point, before a goal from Eric Monaghan effectively ended the tie as a contest. Mark Hehir then added yet another incredible point from play and the Galway crowd were on their feet applauding. To their credit, Cavan kept battling and scored late first half points from Barry Reilly and Niall McDermott. Fittingly, it was Hehir who completed the scoring for the first half, and it saw Galway go in with an 11 point advantage.
The Tribesmen were fast out of the blocks in the second period and Conor Doherty increased their lead to 12 points. Niall Murray replied for Cavan and then came the turning point of the afternoon. Cavan were awarded a penalty but it was saved, and with it went their chances of a fightback.
Galway went down the field and Michael Boyle knocked over a point. Niall McDermott pointed for Cavan but it was just adding respectability to the scoreboard. Cummin’s added yet another score for Galway and Jack Brady responded for Cavan. Mark Hehir and Conor Doherty continued to cause Cavan serious problems and both added points. Cavan scored a late goal but it was academic at that stage and Hehir kicked over the final point of the afternoon to give the Connacht champions a 10 point win.
Today’s performance will have been a huge lift to Galway football. The senior team have had a difficult season to date, but there is certainly the makings of a championship winning outfit in this side. Mark Hehir was outstanding on the day and looks a serious prospect for the future. With the likes of Michael Meehan and Paraic Joyce to aid him, Hehir looks the future of Galway football.