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Dublin: 7°C Wednesday 21 April 2021

One of the games of the summer, Galway's late heroics and Rory O'Connor class

3 talking points after Galway edged Wexford out after extra-time to lift the Leinster U21 hurling crown.

Kevin O’Brien reports from O’Moore Park, Portlaoise

1. One of the games of the summer

THERE MIGHT NOT be a game quite as dramatic as this one for the rest of the inter-county season. This classic encounter ebbed and flowed with both Galway and Wexford enjoying sustained periods of dominance.

Tony Ward celebrates with Cianan Fahy Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Thomas Monaghan’s goal powered Galway into a 1-7 to 0-4 lead after 12 minutes, but Wexford outscored them by 0-9 to 0-1 before the half to lead by two at the interval.

Seamus Casey’s solo goal in the 41st minute helped Wexford 1-17 to 1-12 ahead, but five minutes later Galway struck two quickfire goals in 60 seconds through Kevin Cooney and Evan Niland.

The Tribe were three in front five minutes into second-half stoppage-time when Ian Carthy sent the game to extra-time with a last-second equaliser. Wexford looked to have the edge in extra-time and Rory O’Connor’s superb score from midfield in the 81st minute put them two in front.

Then up popped Sean Bleahene with a stunning catch and finish to win the provincial crown for Galway and deny Wexford their 18th title at this grade.

2. Senior stars on show impress

Rory O’Connor didn’t set the world alight in Wexford’s semi-final win over Dublin, but he was in irresistible form for the Model County tonight and won man-of-the-match despite featuring for the losing team.

Darren Codd dejected Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Lining out at centre-forward, O’Connor frequently dropped deep into midfield to hunt for possession and showed off his impressive scoring ability with seven points of the highest quality in the 80 minutes.

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O’Connor and Damien Reck will likely start for Davy Fitzgerald’s Wexford seniors in Saturday night’s All-Ireland SHC preliminary quarter-final against Westmeath.

Galway had a handful of Micheal Donoghue’s seniors involved, with Tomas Monaghan extremely influential at midfield. He scored 1-2 and his goal was a thing of beauty that started on the sideline from 45m.

Galway corner-forward Evan Niland also has senior experience under his belt and he dispatched 1-7, including several important frees in extra-time to keep the Tribe in touch.

The likes of Monaghan, Niland, Jack Grealish, Sean Loftus and Brian Concannon will have to quickly turn their attention to Sunday when Galway face Kilkenny in the Leinster SHC replay.

Sean Bleahene celebrates scoring the winning goal Source: James Crombie/INPHO

3. Quality of hurling on offer

The standard of this tie bodes well for the production lines in Galway and Wexford.

Despite the warm weather conditions, both sides brought a huge level of physicality and pace from the first minute.

The quality of hurling on show never dropped throughout a contest that had absolutely everything – five goals, 53 scores, a penalty save, a red card, last-second goals at the end of both normal-time and extra-time, a vocal crowd and several questionable refereeing decisions from Laois native John O’Brien.

Bleahene breaks Wexford hearts with last second goal to seal Galway’s first Leinster U21 title

Cork are champions of Munster U21 hurling for first time since 2007 after 13-point win over Tipp

About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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