Can Offaly’s Minor hurlers repeat U20 footballers exploits

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Last year Offaly’s U20s footballers caught the imagination of everyone as they claimed the All-Ireland title. Less than one year later their hurlers are getting ready for the All-Ireland Minor Hurling Final.
Tipperary stand in the way of the Faithful County and their first All-Ireland Minor title since 1989. That was only the third All-Ireland Offaly won at this grade. Tipp’s last success at minor level and they are chasing their 21st title; they’ll go level at the top with Kilkenny if they win Sunday.
Nowlan Park was selected as the venue for the final and it’s a sell-out. Sunday will be awash with blue and yellow and green, white and yellow. All-Ireland finals are a special occasion and something to savour for both counties.
The Leinster Final and scenes after it when Offaly defeated Laois in MW O’Moore Park, Portlaoise, were something to behold. There was unbridled joy on the faces of young and old as Offaly became provincial champions.
They showed class and maturity in their All-Ireland semi-final win against Clare. Clare had lost the Munster Final, on penalties to Tipperary. Tipp then defeated Galway in the semi-final by four points and they will provide a stern test for Offaly.
Sunday is a special day because it’s neighbouring counties in the final. That’ll add a bit extra to the game. County boundaries are so important when it comes to GAA and it will be no different in Tipperary and Offaly.
It’s amazing how things change, and quickly with sport in a county. Offaly won minor All-Ireland in 1986, ‘87 and ‘89. They then went on to claim two All-Ireland Senior titles in 1994 and 1995. Fast forward to recent years where Offaly were relegated to the Christy Ring Cup three years ago.
They’ve been trying to make strides at senior level but it hasn’t been easy. When hope had faded, along came the U17s who have given new hope to Offaly supporters. Hopefully these young lads will inspire the next generation.
These young Offaly lads are on the cusp of success and have the chance of making history at the Kilkenny venue. They can take confidence out of their previous performances. Tipperary will no doubt go into the game with the same level of confidence.
It should be an intriguing game with excellent players on both teams. Let’s hope for a good sporting game and may the best team win.