Launch of 2010 U21 championship

U21 Cship cadburyHow early in the year that the U21 championship is officially launched always comes as a jolt and this year, with snow still plentiful enough on higher ground, is no exception.  The U21 football championship launch took place at Croke Park yesterday and it was the case of the usual yada, yada, yada that accompanies such events.  Roscommon’s Donie Shine was button-holed into giving a few quotes about the Roscommon senior team, Pillar (remember him?) spoke about the ongoing farce in relation to Eamonn Fennell, while Dermot Earley waxed lyrically about what a great experiment the mark is (but then wasn’t he on the committee that proposed it?).  Nobody seemed to have that much to say about the U21 championship.  Or all that lovely chocolate that those nice Cadbury people make, for that matter.

As regards the timing of yesterday’s launch, it’ll probably surprise you (it certainly surprised me) that yesterday’s event was, in fact, about a week overdue, as three matches – all in Leinster – have already been played, with Wexford, Longford and 2008 U21 All-Ireland finalists Kildare already on the sidelines. Our lads – for whom, under Ray Dempsey’s tutelage, we have rather lofty hopes dish ear –  take the field against Leitrim under the lights at Cloone on March 10th (I don’t have a confirmed throw-in time for that one yet, I’m afraid, and neither does the rather annoyingly constructed U21 championship website). If we clear that hurdle, we then face a tough semi-final against Roscommon on Paddy’s Day.  Galway and Sligo, meanwhile face a straight shootout in the other half of the draw.

We’re aiming for an unprecedented fifth provincial title in a row in this grade (we’ve won four on the spin before, as have Galway – well, it says so here) and it’s also the first of last year’s clean sweep of minor, senior and U21 Connacht titles that we’re laying on the line in 2010. Like last year, if we’re to retain our Connacht U21 title, it’s very likely that we’ll have to beat strong teams from both Roscommon and Galway in order to do so. Not forgetting the lads from the Ridge County too.

While we’ve had it all our own way within the province at this grade in recent years, I think it’s fair to say that – aside from that great All-Ireland victory in 2006 – we’ve underachieved at All-Ireland level.  We lost a very poor semi-final (a match ruined by stupid refereeing, as I recall) to Laois in 2007 and then we shot ourselves badly in the foot the following year by dropping our main man, Aidan Campbell, ahead of a semi-final that we narrowly lost to eventual champions Kerry.  Last year, we were beaten fair and square by a superior Down team at the penultimate stage.

raydempseyWith Ray Dempsey now prowling the sideline and with the minor classes of 2008 and 2009 starting to come through, we should be in a position for a serious tilt at this championship and it’d be just great if we could repeat our 2006 success this year.  Unlike its minor and senior equivalents, however, the U21 championship remains an old-fashioned knockout one and so every match we play in it could be our final one.  As already noted, getting out of Connacht could well prove to a tough proposition but, if we do manage to claim our fifth U21 Connacht title in a row, we owe it to ourselves to ensure that we punch our weight in it from then on.

8 thoughts on “Launch of 2010 U21 championship

  1. I haven’t heard anything about a panel but I heard that Ray Dempsey wasn’t keen on publicly naming his minor panels and so it could be the same with the U21s now. As regards who might feature at U21 level this year, one of the contributors to this thread on gives an indication of what the team might look like and I reckon that this sort of line-up would be pretty strong.

  2. looking at that line up – prett strong
    I thought the very impressive at minor,Cathal Freeman – sustained a very serious leg injury last year – is he a contender ?
    Also missing here is Cathal Carolan from Crossmolina ?This guy is a real no nonsence worker who is not afraid to get stuck in and can score some thing we all cry out for. played at wing forward /midfield last year count him in!

  3. Just after looking at the thread on the gaaboard .com. That is a serious combination. Jason Gibbons actually deserves to be on the senior panel. If the manager (Dempsey) continues as he did at minor level then we can expect another Connacht title and a real shot at winning the U21 All-Ireland. We gotta break the curse sometime. No better time to start than when we got top players. By the way that 2006 squad was some outfit, forgotten are Michael Conroy a guy whom I thought would be a mainstay on the seniors for years. Heart breaking to see genuine talent like him, Hannick and Campell get parked for one reason or another. Goes to prove on thing though; we got a serious depth in good under age lads. Lets get the max out of them. Look at Sligo for example, they have yet to win a single Connacht U21 title, we have won over 23 since that age group started in 1964. We have 4 All-Ireland titles, with such a high ratio on Connacht titles we should have more.

  4. Agree with you ontheroad, we had some team in 2006. I forgot just how good it was until clicking on WJ’s link to the Western’s report on the game.

    Look at this for a starting 15:

    Kenneth O’Malley, Trevor Howley, Ger Cafferkey, Keith Higgins, Chris Barrett, Tom Cunniffe, Colm Boyle, Seamus O’Shea, Barry Moran, Aidan Campbell, Joe Dillon, Aidan Kilcoyne, Mark Ronaldson, Marcus Hannick, Michael Conroy

    10 of that team are now on our senior panel, arguably there should be more.
    And I might be wrong here, but I think all but Joe Dillon have featured for the seniors at some point.

    Hopefully we can get the same turnaround with the current U21’s.

    Does anyone know what odds we are to win it? I can’t find anything on the Paddy Power website yet.

  5. Actually I think that having 10 of that team in the senior panel is a good return, overall we have quite a young senior panel now what with a few of the more recent minor teams.

    It is good that we will likely have to beat both Ross and Galway if we are to win Connacht, this would be good preparation for a tilt at the all Ireland.

    Difficult to predict overall success due to the nature of the competition, the Rossies would have hoped to do well last year but got caught with a late goal in Charlestown, Galway won the minor as far as I can recall….

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