Bord Gáis Energy GAA Hurling U-21 All-Ireland Championship Final
Mayo v Meath (B Final) 3pm
Waterford V Galway (A Final) 5pm
Saturday, 10th September, Semple Stadium, Thurles
Waterford and Galway have both successfully navigated their way through to this year’s Bord Gáis Energy GAA Hurling U-21 All-Ireland Championship Final. But there can only be one winner of the new James Nowlan Cup and, with it being the inaugural year this will be presented, it would make lifting it that little bit sweeter.
Waterford, having had a disappointing U-21 campaign in 2015, have redeemed themselves and excited fans in the Déise with their successful 2016 championship. A young team, full of skill and pace have continuously lit the championship up with what can only be described as scintillating hurling with Bord Gáis Energy ambassador Austin Gleeson leading the charge from centre back.
Galway, a team that have only their semi-final encounter with the Dubs under their belts, will have their eyes firmly locked on the prize come Saturday evening. Despite Waterford’s impressive championship form to date Galway will be intent on not allowing them get in the way of them winning.
While Waterford are considered one of the top teams at senior level, they have not seen much success at U-21 grade to date having last played in an All-Ireland final in 1996. This current crop of players are a breath of fresh air to hurling at U-21 level and sure to be stars of the future.
They put in a very strong semi-final performance against Antrim (5-25 to 1-8) that saw Seán Power’s side charge into the Final. Senior player Patrick Curran hit the net twice while other members of Derek McGrath’s squad also raised green flags with Stephen Bennett and Tom Devine both on the scoresheet.
Galway, having only played one championship game to date, once again, come into this game somewhat an unknown entity. In previous years, Galway would not have typically performed at U-21 level being knocked out in their first encounter in each of the last five years.
Waterford’s stats team looking to do their homework on this Galway side can take one thing for sure coming into this game, this team will work their socks off to ensure nothing gets in their way of claiming the James Nowlan Cup for the very first time.
The team may have suffered a blow losing Conor Whelan to a shoulder injury but have captain Brian Molloy to call on. It was Brian who delivered a man of the match performance to see the team over the line against Dublin in extra time.
This final has all the hallmarks to be a classic. Two counties starved of success at U-21 and senior level, while both play hurling with commitment and passion, it’s safe to say that there won’t be too much between the two come 6.15 on Saturday night!
Hurling fans travelling to the game early can have the chance to see Meath and Mayo battle it out in the ‘B’ final which throws is at 3pm.
On route to the final Meath faced Wicklow in a quarter final fixture winning 1-22 to 0-12. They then faced 2014 All-Ireland finalists Kerry in the semi-final, coming through on a similar score line 1-21 to 1-12.
Mayo played Kildare and Roscommon on their way to the final. Their road was a much closer one, having only beat Kildare 0-6 to 0-8 in the quarter final, and narrowly defeating Roscommon by one point, 0-13 to 2-6 in the semi-final.
Going on previous form, it would seem that Meath are favourites going into the game.
Fans who can’t travel to the game can catch all the action live on TG4 or follow @BGEHurlingU21 for regular match updates.