Preview: EirGrid All Ireland U21 Semi-Finals
EirGrid All Ireland Under 21 Football Championship Semi-Finals
Saturday April 15
Dublin v Donegal, Kingspan Breffni Park, 2.30pm, Live on TG4
It is 20 years since Donegal triumphed nationally at Under 21 level, but this current group of players are viewed as an exciting and promising crop.
Several of Declan Bonner’s panel have already sampled action at senior level for Rory Gallagher’s team so Donegal continue to invest in youth.
Donegal have made strides in the underage ranks winning two of the last three Ulster minor titles so talented footballers are being produced.
Dublin know all about the value of developing a solid and sustainable coaching structure with manager Dessie Farrell a shrewd operator.
Three All Ireland Under 21 triumphs have been registered by Dublin since 2010, while in Leinster they completed a four in a row last month.
Westmeath, Longford, and Offaly were all soundly beaten by Dublin, who feature the splendid Con O’Callaghan in attack.
Tom Fox and Aaron Byrne are others to have made an impact for Dublin, while Colm Basquel has performed smartly for Ballyboden St Enda’s and UCD in recent years too.
Lorcan Connor is a potent threat for Donegal nailing 1-5 in Monday’s provincial decider success over Derry, while Michael Carroll was another prominent figure.
Ten Donegal players scored during that morale boosting victory for Donegal, who overcame Tyrone following a replay, and Cavan.
Delivering on the All Ireland stage is what Donegal intend to do and this will be a revealing tussle between two highly rated outfits.
Kerry v Galway, Cusack Park, Ennis, 4.30pm, Live on TG4
Kerry hadn’t won a Munster Under 21 Championship since 2008 so Jack O’Connor’s charges were thrilled to prevail down south.
At the end of last month Kerry summoned a confident and classy display to beat Cork at Pairc Ui Rinn with Sean O’Shea kicking six sweet points.
A resourceful and plucky Clare had caused Kerry some problems earlier in the competition, but Kerry are a strong team following three All Ireland minor victories in a row.
That and Pobalscoil Corca Dhuibhne and St Brendan’s Killarney Hogan Cup dominance offers evidence of the importance Kerry are placing on developing footballers.
Killian Spillane, Matthew O’Sullivan, Cathal Bambury, Brian O’Beaglaioch, and Andrew Barry have occupied central roles for the Kingdom.
Galway arrive at this juncture having cleared three awkward hurdles, the Tribesmen started in devastating fashion before Leitrim embarked on a gritty recovery.
Gerry Fahy’s team held out and subsequently defeated reigning Connacht and All Ireland champions Mayo at Tuam Stadium.
A week later in a thrilling provincial showpiece a diligent Sligo side led Galway by eight, but the maroon and white youngsters showed character and a bit of craft too prevailing after extra-time.
Liam Kelly, Sean Andy O’Ceallaigh, Michael Daly, and Robert Finnerty have impressed, while Cein D’arcy and Sean Kelly made important impacts as substitutes in the Sligo fixture.
Daly rifled a brace of beautiful points in the Allianz Football League Division Two Final, is a son of former Galway star Val, who acts as a selector for Fahy.
With Kerry and Galway ready, willing, and able to move the ball quickly this could be an attractive football game in Ennis.
KERRY: Shane Ryan; Tom Leo O'Sullivan, Jason Foley, Tom O'Sullivan; Brian O'Beagloaich, Andrew Barry, Gavin White; Brian O'Seanachain, Barry O'Sullivan; Brandon Barrett, Sean O'Shea, Matthew Flaherty; Killian Spillane, Matthew O'Sullivan, Conor Geaney.
GALWAY: Ronan O'Beolain; Liam Kelly, Sean Andy O'Ceallaigh, Ruairi Greene; Kieran Molloy, Dylan McHugh, Cillian McDaid; Peter Cooke, Cein D'arcy; Sean Kelly, Michael Daly, Paul Mannion; Robert Finnerty, Eoin Finnerty, Dessie Conneely.