up for grabs

6 players to watch as Dublin and Galway battle it out for All-Ireland U21 football glory

It’s a battle between the young Sky Blues and the Tribesmen for EirGrid All-Ireland honours.

WILL IT BE a fifth title for Dublin or a sixth for opponents Galway?

All will be revealed at O’Connor Park in Tullamore on Saturday when the two counties battle it out for EirGrid All-Ireland U21 football glory.

The two teams have shown some impressive form in their march to the final but it’s the first Dublin-Galway decider in this grade since 2002, when the Tribesmen won by eight points.

Galway were champions last in 2013, while Dublin’s most recent success was achieved a year later.

Here, we run the rule over six players who will have a big say in determining who comes out on top this time…


1. Con O’Callaghan (Dublin)

Presseye / Philip Magowan/INPHO Presseye / Philip Magowan/INPHO / Philip Magowan/INPHO

The name on the lips of many Dublin fans, O’Callaghan has been in a rich recent vein of form.

He won an AIB All-Ireland senior club hurling medal in March with Cuala but at inter-county level, the big ball is O’Callaghan’s choice for now.

O’Callaghan scored 0-5 against Westmeath, 2-5 in the Longford victory and 0-4 when Dublin beat Offaly to claim the provincial title.

The free-scoring forward was black-carded in the All-Ireland semi-final win over Donegal and the team’s joint-captain will feel he has a point to prove against Galway.

2. Cein D’Arcy (Galway)

Donall Farmer / INPHO Donall Farmer / INPHO / INPHO

As Galway upset the formbook to see off pre-match favourites Kerry at the semi-final stage, Cein D’Arcy was immense at midfield.

The Caherlistrane man has been fast-tracked into the U21 set-up, having lined out at corner back and midfield at the business end of last year’s minor campaign.

In a matter of months, D’Arcy appears to have taken his game to a new level and he boasts an ideal mix of power and fielding ability in the middle sector, along with a scoring touch.

Alongside D’Arcy, Peter Cooke is a superb foil and how the pair fare out will prove crucial to Galway’s hopes.

D’Arcy is a former Ted Webb (U16) winner with Galway and is viewed as a potential senior star of the future.

3. Evan Comerford (Dublin)

Aaron Elliott, Tony O'Sullivan Sean McMahon and Evan Comerford celebrate Dublin goalkeeper Evan Comerford (right) Morgan Treacy / INPHO Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

Back in January, we flagged Evan Comerford’s possible step-up to Dublin’s U21 ranks. 

If the Ballymun Kickhams player continues on his upward curve, he could yet emerge as Stephen Cluxton’s long-term successor at senior level.

Dublin’s minor goalkeeper in 2015 and 2016, Comerford has made a seamless transition to the U21 grade and there’s plenty to admire about his game.

A former soccer player with Verona in Blanchardstown, Comerford was a wing-back in a former life at club level before stepping in between the sticks for an U-16 League game. 

His kick-outs are generally on the money and while Comerford isn’t the tallest (he’s under 6ft tall), this is a player with a bright future ahead of him.

4. Robert Finnerty (Galway)

Donall Farmer / INPHO Donall Farmer / INPHO / INPHO

Finnerty was another stand-out player with Galway’s minors last year, with a keen eye for goal.

The son of former Mayo star Anthony, Rob has been busy carving out his own niche in recent times.

10000GaelicPlayersMessines1917 / YouTube

Galway might have lost last year’s All-Ireland final but Finnerty was still his team’s leading scorer, with three points, having collected 1-5 in the semi-final win over Donegal.

Finnerty collected five points as Galway got past Sligo after extra-time in the Connacht final, before adding a point against Kerry.

Already an established senior at club level, Finnerty was second only behind Sean Armstrong in the scoring stakes for Salthill-Knocknacarra in last year’s county final loss to Corofin. 

5. Colm Basquel (Dublin)

Presseye / Philip Magowan/INPHO Presseye / Philip Magowan/INPHO / Philip Magowan/INPHO

Basquel was one of the many Dublin panellists caught up in the recent club v county row, and he opted to play for Ballyboden St Enda’s in their recent defeat to St Oliver Plunkett’s/Eoghan Ruadh. 

Basquel could do little to prevent defeat for the 2016 All-Ireland champions and he’ll be eager to take any frustrations out on Galway.

John Galvin / YouTube

Basquel scored two points as Dublin opened their campaign against Westmeath before missing the Longford and Offaly games through injury.

He returned to start against Donegal but was held scoreless on that occasion. It’s hard to envisage Basquel drawing another blank, however.

6. Cillian McDaid (Galway)

James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Cillian McDaid is a dream wing-back, and he was man of the match in the Connacht final victory over Sligo. 

The former AFL hopeful may still have time to fulfil his professional dream but for now, he’s a prized asset for the Galway footballers.

Versatile McDaid also marked his first senior start for Galway with two goals in the FBD League victory over Leitrim back in January.

McDaid, from Craughwell, is a former All-Ireland minor medallist with the Galway hurlers, who plays his club football with Monivea-Abbey.

Blessed with a superb engine, McDaid’s energy levels allow him to track back whenever required, while also bombing forward to assist on the scoresheet.

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