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8 players to watch in this weekend's Fitzgibbon Cup

We’ve picked some of the best young players from Waterford IT, Cork IT, UL and Limerick IT.

Waterford IT's Eoin Murphy lifts the Fitzgibbon Cup after last year's win against Cork IT.
Waterford IT's Eoin Murphy lifts the Fitzgibbon Cup after last year's win against Cork IT.
Image: Presseye/Declan Roughan/INPHO

THE FITZGIBBON CUP has long been the breeding ground for the stars of tomorrow with the likes of Henry Shefflin, JJ Delaney and Joe Canning all excelling in the competition before going on to even bigger things at inter-county level.

With this year’s Fitzgibbon weekend in Limerick IT nearly upon us, the42 have decided to pick two promising young hurlers from each of the four semi-finalists who have the potential to make their mark at senior level in the coming seasons.

UL

1. Stephen Bennett (Ballysaggart, Waterford)

In a star-studded UL team boasting the likes of Clare duo Tony Kelly and David McInerney as well as Tipperary’s John McGrath, full-forward Bennett has the potential to be a household name in future.

An All-Ireland minor winner in 2013, the talented Ballysaggart attacker overcame a double hip operation earlier that year to hit the net nine times as the Deise bridged a 65-year gap to claim the U18 crown.

With a hurling revolution of sorts brewing in Waterford, Bennett could be the man to spearhead an attack on top honours at senior level .

Stephen Bennett with Conor Shaughnessy and Vincent Doyle Stephen Bennett shows a clean pair of heels to the Galway defence in Waterford's 2013 All-Ireland minor hurling success. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

2.  Brian Stapleton (Templederry Kenyons, Tipperary)

The Tipperary man operated at half-forward in last year’s surprise quarter-final defeat to bitter rivals Limerick IT but he looks far more comfortable operating at half-back or at midfield this year.

The Templederry club man has risen through the underage ranks impressively and is following in the footsteps of his older brother Thomas, a UL stalwart who captained the college to a Fitzgibbon final in 2009.

Strong on the ball, accurate with deliveries and quick on his feet, Stapleton could play a massive role as the underachieving Limerick side chase only their fifth third-level colleges crown.

Brian Lawton tackles Brian Stapleton 10/1/2015 Brian Stapleton will be hoping to help UL to their fifth Fitzgibbon Cup success this weekend. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Limerick IT

1. Joe Campion (Borris/Kilcotton, Laois)

Davy Fitzgerald has a knack of moulding hurlers during their college stay in LIT and the young Laois man looks to be following in the footsteps of the likes of Kieran “Fraggy” Murphy, Jonathan Clancy and county team mate Willie Hyland, who all developed immensely under his tutelage.

Equally effective at midfield or in attack, Campion was a key component of the Laois minor side who reached the All-Ireland quarter-finals two years ago and is progressing at a rate of knots under Fitzgerald and Laois senior manager Seamus “Cheddar” Plunkett.

He has made several appearances for the county seniors already in his young career and with pace and an impressive ball striking ability, he is definitely a name the hurling masses will become more familiar with in due course.

Joe Campion under pressure from Ian Byrne, Will Young and Aidan Fogarty Joe Campion uses his pace and skill to evade three IT Carlow players in their 2015 Fitzgibbon Cup quarter-final win. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

2. David Reidy (Éire Óg Ennis, Clare)

Reidy has excellent hurling pedigree having come through the Clare underage conveyor belt that has yielded three U21 All-Ireland wins in as many years, with the ace attacker starring in the 2014 success scoring a trio of points in their thrilling win against Wexford.

The Éire Óg Ennis club man is currently prospering under Fitzgerald as both his college and county manager and the Clare bainisteoir has showed his faith by blooding him in the early stages of this year’s National Hurling League.

He’s shooting the lights out for LIT at present and despite some rough moments in his budding inter-county career, there can be no denying that his class and predatory instincts will come to the fore in the coming years on the biggest stage.

Conor Robinson with David Reidy The elusive David Reidy breaks away from Dublin IT defender Conor Robinson during Limerick IT's Round 2 Fitzgibbon Cup win earlier this month. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Waterford IT

1. Gavin O’Brien (Roanmore, Waterford)

Colm Bonnar’s WIT side are chasing back-to-back Fitzgibbon Cup wins back boned by a plethora of future Waterford stars, one of which is exciting half-forward Gavin O’Brien.

The Roanmore man shot to fame with a stunning goal against Dublin as a minor in 2011 (see below) and his pace, attacking flair and ball-winning ability will be a potent weapon for Derek McGrath’s Deise side.

He made his senior debut in the 2012 Munster final as a raw teenager but having been given some time to mature the 21-year-old, who is equally adept at wing back or wing forward, looks sure to fulfil his endless potential.

Source: hockeyhurlingshinty3/YouTube


2. Ger Teehan (Graigue-Ballycallan, Kilkenny)

Some players are tailor-made for the demands of third-level colleges hurling and forge a career based on their displays in the historic competition, Kilkenny’s Ger Teehan looks to fit the bill perfectly.

Already a medal winner in 2014 when playing at corner-back, the Graigue-Ballycallan club man has graduated to the pivotal full-back position and was a pillar of strength in their dominant quarter-final win against Dublin IT.

The talented Teehan was part of the Kilkenny U21 team last year and looks to have a bright future ahead as a no-nonsense defender who gives little away and mans the house diligently.

Ger Teehan with Diarmuid Horan 18/2/2014 Ger Teehan holds on to the sliothar tightly despite the attention of DIT's Diarmuid Horan in the 2014 Fitzgibbon Cup competition. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Cork IT

1. Mark Ellis (Millstreet, Cork)

Ellis made his senior inter-county debut last year on the back of the some storming performances in last year’s Fitzgibbon Cup as he helped to guide CIT to their second final in three years.

He went on to nail down the problematic centre-back position as Cork powered to Munster success beating Limerick, a remarkable achievement for a man who didn’t make the county minor team back in 2008.

The 24-year-old is a commanding presence at number six, strong in the air and comfortable on the ball, and buoyed by a dominant display against Clare last Saturday evening, the Millstreet defender will be hoping to guide CIT to victory en route to a long and successful year with the Rebels.

Mark Ellis and Shane Dowling Mark Ellis closes in on Limerick's Shane Dowling during last year's Munster final. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

2. Conor Hammersley (Clonoulty-Rossmore, Tipperary)

Another interesting Premier county Fitzgibbon story as Hammersley aims to create history by helping CIT to their first ever Fitzgibbon success and go one step further than his brother Timmy.

Timmy hit 1-11 but still finished on the losing side for WIT in the 2010 decider while he was part of Mary Immaculate College’s management team when they were beaten in the 2013 final so the Clonoulty-Rossmore midfielder will be hoping for better luck.

Hammersley is an exciting talent with great pace, technical ability and a keen eye for a score and it is likely he will play a leading role this weekend and possibly in future Tipperary senior panels.

Conor Hammersley watched by Colm Spillane, Cormac Walsh, Kilian Burke and Killian McIntyre Tipperary's Conor Hammersley will be hoping to represent his county at senior level in the coming years. Source: James Crombie

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About the author:

Michael Verney

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