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6 players to watch as Cork and Galway battle it out for All-Ireland minor hurling glory

The counties will compete for the Irish Press Cup.

A FIRST TITLE for Cork since way back in 2001, or will Galway triumph to lift the Irish Press Cup for the first time in four years?

All will be revealed at Croke Park as the counties do battle for the Electric Ireland All-Ireland minor hurling crown.

Galway have defeated Clare and Kilkenny to reach the September showpiece, with Cork accounting for Waterford, last year’s winners Tipperary, Clare and Dublin to reach a first final in ten years.

There’s plenty of top young talent on show from both sides, with potential senior stars of the future eager to put themselves in the shop window.

Here, we take a look at six players who will have a big bearing on the end result…

1. Daire Connery (Cork)

Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

Connery’s one of the stand-out players from this year’s minor campaign.

A dynamic midfielder with a scoring touch, the Na Piarsaigh player has already claimed an All-Ireland medal at U17 level, and he’s now hoping to add the minor crown.

Connery’s collected 0-27 in this year’s minor campaign, with the breakdown as follows:

  • v Waterford – 0-3f
  • v Tipperary (drawn game) – 0-7 (5f)
  • v Tipperary (replay) – 0-6 (2f, 1 sl)
  • v Clare – 0-6 (5f)
  • v Dublin – 0-5 (2f)

Already hailed a potential star of the future, Connery fits the mould of the modern-day midfielder.

He’s low to the ground, energetic, pacey and blessed with the ability to deliver killer ball to his inside men.

2. Jack Canning (Galway)

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

As the surname suggests, Jack is one of Portumna’s Canning hurling clan.

A nephew of current Galway star Joe, and ex-Tribes corner back Ollie, Jack’s been busy making a name for himself on the national stage.

He shot 1-3 as Galway accounted for Clare in the All-Ireland quarter-final, before adding 1-4, including a penalty goal, in the semi-final victory over Kilkenny.

At club level, Jack’s graduated to the senior ranks to join Joe and Ollie in the starting line-up.

And his father Davy was a member of the Portumna sides that claimed All-Ireland senior club titles in 2006, 2008 and 2009.

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

 

Canning’s also a useful rugby player, and has worn the colours of Cistercian College, Roscrea in recent times, and played in the Leinster schools senior cup final loss to Belvedere in 2016.

It could be a very good Sunday for the Canning family if Jack and Joe finish with minor and senior All-Ireland medals.

3. Sean O’Leary Hayes (Cork)

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Along with goalkeeper Ger Collins, Sean O’Leary Hayes started for Cork in last year’s Munster championship defeat at the hands of eventual champions Tipperary.

Cork spurned a good position in that game and their sense of disappointment was only heightened when the Premier County went on to collect provincial and All-Ireland honours.

O’Leary Hayes lined out at centre back on that occasion but now he’s firmly anchored as the pivotal player in the Cork full-back line.

He’s team captain too, and leading by example with a string of fine performances in the 2017 championship.

O’Leary Hayes likes to get forward when the chance arises and his sense of adventure was rewarded with points in the Munster semi-final replay victory over Tipperary, and the final win against Clare.

4. Darren Morrissey (Galway)

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Galway’s captain Darren Morrissey earned the man-of-the-match award in the All-Ireland semi-final victory over Kilkenny.

His Kilkenny counterpart Adrian Mullen had come into that game in a rich vein of scoring form but met his match in Morrissey.

Mullen was restricted to just four points, one from play, and Morrissey’s victory in that duel went a long way towards securing a final place for Galway.

Morrissey was also excellent for Galway in their quarter-final victory over Clare, as the Banner boys were held to just 1-12.

He’s already an established senior club player with Sarsfields, and he’s made a seamless transition from the 2016 U17 ranks.

5. Ger Collins (Cork)

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Collins is following in the footsteps of his brothers Patrick and Matthew, who have been previous Cork minor hurling team goalkeepers.

Another brother, Michael, was on the U21 team defeated by Clare in the 2014 Bord Gáis Energy Munster final, and he featured for the intermediates that were beaten by Kilkenny in July’s All-Ireland final.

Patrick, who was this year’s U21 goalkeeper and Anthony Nash’s senior understudy, was between the sticks for the intermediates in that Páirc Uí Chaoimh reverse.

Now Ger has the chance to salvage some national silverware from the season for the family, having played a starring role to date in a competitive Munster championship and All-Ireland semi-final victory over Dublin.

An accomplished shot-stopper, Collins is also razor-sharp with his puck-outs, and his father, Pat, also kept goal for the club during his playing days.

6. Conor Caulfield (Galway)

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Caulfield is holding down the pivotal centre half back position for Galway in this year’s championship.

A graduate from U14 and U16 Galway panels, Caulfield is now holding his own in the minor grade.

And he’s nailed down a starting place in the team in 2017, having featured as a sub during last year’s campaign.

Caulfield came off the bench late on against Antrim in the 2016 quarter-final win, but was an unused substitute in the heavy semi-final loss to Tipperary.

Conor’s brother Shane, a former Galway underage star, was a key member of the Warwickshire team that captured the Lory Meagher Cup this year.

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