O’Shea’s U-21 farewell

by Karl Graham

DUBLIN Under-21 co-captain Cillian O’Shea is looking to put the furore of past weeks behind him as he the Dubs look forward to the last ever EirGrid Under-21 All-Ireland football final against Galway in Tullamore this weekend.
The Kilmacud Crokes man, who captains the team alongside Con O’Callaghan, is enjoying his third year with the squad but it will be his last as the competition switches to an Under-20 structure from next year.
Galway are somewhat of an unknown quantity, with full-back O’Shea and his teammates having no experience of playing them before.
“I don’t think any of the group have any experience of Galway so it will be interesting,” O’Shea said while speaking at the launch of the final. “From what I’ve seen, they play very good football and they are a very talented side so it will be a big challenge.”
Galway reached the final after victory over Kerry in the semi-finals, something of a shock considering Kerry were many people’s overall favourites.
“Kerry were hugely fancied and anybody I know who knows anything about football had them talked up to the sky so very impressive from Galway. It was a serious performance, particularly the opening 15 minutes,” said O’Shea.
For Dublin, all the talk last week was the decision of some players not to make themselves available – at the behest of Under-21 boss Dessie Farrell – for their club’s opening fixtures in the senior football championship.
O’Shea denied that there was a player boycott, as reported in some quarters, and was on the bench for Kilmacud’s annihilation of Erin’s Isle.
“We put in a request for the games involving the Under-21 players to be deferred and the clubs fully supported that decision.
“The clubs were writing in but that request wasn’t granted so the decision then on Tuesday night at the meeting was that we were going to make ourselves available. Individual cases were all different based on who was playing who.”
While O’Shea may not have been needed by his team, his fellow Under-21 teammate Shane Clayton was and unfortunately picked up an injury while playing for Ballyboden St Enda’s against Plunkett’s. It may well rule him out of the final on Saturday.
“He was coming back from a hamstring injury and it looks as if he might have done a bit more damage on it. That’s disappointing. He would be a big loss. We’ll wait and see before we fully rule him out but it’s disappointing for him, definitely,” said O’Shea.
When asked if the chance to be the last team to win an All-Ireland at Under-21 added extra incentive to game against Galway, O’Shea said simply: “It would be special.”

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