James Skehill (file pic). James Crombie/INPHO
High hopes

Skehill would be 'borderline devastated' if Galway minor Class of 2023 don't break through

The team selector and ex-goalkeeper hopes to see ‘six or seven regulars’ through to the senior team.

GALWAY SELECTOR JAMES Skehill admits he’d be ‘borderline devastated’ if at least half a dozen of his minors don’t go on to have long senior careers.

The ex-goalkeeper has high hopes for a group that has reached the Electric Ireland All-Ireland Minor final with a whopping 100 points to spare.

Fergal Healy’s team have won each of their six games by double-digit margins and blitzed the Leinster championship in their first season in it.

Skehill says they want to finish the job now and to claim a 15th title at the grade but admits development is more important than silverware.

He reckons Galway didn’t get enough players through from his own minor days of 2005 and 2006, when Galway won one Electric Ireland final and lost another, and is desperate to avoid a repeat.

Skehill said: “I look at our group at the minute and I’d be disappointed, borderline devastated, if we didn’t get six if not seven regular senior players through from it.

“And when I say regular I’m talking about playing for a decade. We want guys to stay the course, to get into a senior squad and to form part of that squad for eight, nine, 10 years.

“Go back to our time, myself and Joe Canning were actually talking about it the other day. I think from the 2006 team you had Joe, Aidan Harte, David Burke and myself. So four of us between the 2005 and 2006 teams who lasted 10 years on a senior team.

“Everybody else who came in was for two, three years and they were gone. That just wasn’t enough of a return for the quality of players we had at that stage. So that’s our objective and if you were to graph it out, you’d say, yes, the way they’re starting out now you’d hope that we’d get six or seven regulars through.” 

Top scorer and free-taker Aaron Niland is among a number of players who competed in the Croke Cup final at Croke Park on St Patrick’s Day.

It’s an ultra-talented Galway team that Skehill believes has benefited from the extra games afforded to them after moving into Leinster this year.

aaron-niland-on-free-taking-duty Aaron Niland. Eamonn McGee / INPHO Eamonn McGee / INPHO / INPHO

The Cappataggle man said: “In my two years of minor, in 2005 and 2006, the total amount of games we played in those two years was six. The guys this year have already played six games and this will be their seventh. In terms of exposure, experience, even that extra familiarity they all have with eachother and with the management, it’s been huge.

“I won’t say it’s the reason we didn’t have successful senior teams on the back of previous All-Ireland winning minor teams but this can only be a positive step for our lads.”

Clare have certainly had the more difficult journey to the Electric Ireland Minor decider.

They lost to Limerick at the group stage in Munster before exacting revenge in the provincial semi-final. Brian O’Connell’s side then overcame Cork in the Munster final and Kilkenny in the All-Ireland series.

Skehill said: “The quality of the opposition we’re going to face, it will be the best we have faced. I think we’ve got progressively better as the Leinster championship and the All-Ireland series has gone on but Clare is definitely going to be our biggest test.

“We’re drumming it into the lads that this is going to be a ferocious battle and that if we’re not ready, we’ll go home with nothing.”

Electric Ireland GAA Hurling All-Ireland Minor Championship Final

  • Clare v Galway
  • Sunday, 1pm, Thurles
  • Referee: Michael Kennedy
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