Galway and Kilkenny clash this weekend in Thurles to determine who advances to the All Ireland final in three week’s time.
The format of the U21 championship has not been altered since its inception in 1964 so this semi-final tie represents the first round for Galway. Anthony Cunningham has a very strong squad to choose from with a number of players from last year’s successful side available once again.
Daithi Burke made himself unavailable last year but makes a welcome return at full back, Johnny Coen will be expected to lead from the front after his excellent form with the senior team.
The Galway attack looks very dangerous with senior starters James Regan, Conor Cooney and Niall Burke included. Davy Glennon has been selected in the corner but expect a two man inside line to be adopted in an attempt to create space and exploit a perceived lack of pace in the Kilkenny full back line.
Kilkenny will travel to Thurles in confident mood after a good Leinster campaign, they recorded comfortable victories over Wexford in the semi-final and Laois in the final.
They will be very familiar with this Galway team having faced many of the same players at minor level, manager Richie Mulrooney has selected a strong side and much will depend on how their half back line performs.
Richie Doyle will be familiar to most people having made his senior debut earlier this year, he will be flanked by Joe Lyng and Luke Harney. Offensively Kilkenny also boast some class finishers, Cillian Buckley, John Power (brother of Richie) and
corner forward Ger Alyward are the players that will be expected to do the bulk of the scoring.
Looking at the four remaining sides in the competition, the eventual winners will likely emerge from this game. Both teams look very strong but Galway appear to have a more balanced forward unit and they should advance to the decider on the 18th of September.
Kilkenny: Dylan Walsh, Jason Corcoran, Willie Phelan, Brian Kennedy, Luke Harney, Richie Doyle, Joe Lyng, Geoff Brennan, Ollie Walsh, Kevin Kelly, Padraig Walsh, Cillian Buckley, Walter Walsh, John Power, Ger Aylward.
Galway: Fergal Flannery, Brian Flaherty, Daithi Burke, Jason Grealish, Johnny Coen, Darragh Burke, Joseph Cooney, Padraig Brehony, Tadhg Haran, Richie Commins, Niall Burke, James Regan, Conor Cooney, Jonathan Glynn, Davy Glennon.