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8 players to watch as Tipperary and Limerick battle it out for All-Ireland minor glory

These young stars have key roles to play at Croke Park on Sunday.

THE SCENE IS set for a re-run of the Munster final when Tipperary and Limerick do battle for Electric Ireland All-Ireland minor hurling glory.

Back in July, Tipp dished out a 17-point hammering to the Shannonsiders but a much closer contest is anticipated this time.

Here, we run the rule over 8 players who will have a big say in the destination of the coveted Irish Press Cup.

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1. Brian McGrath (Tipperary)

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Sunday could be an historic day for the McGrath family. Brian captains the minors before his older brothers, Noel and John, line out for the seniors.

McGrath, who’s also played minor football for Tipperary, has been marked out as one to watch for a few years now after starring in the Harty Cup ranks for Our Lady’s Templemore.

He’s an extremely tidy player and also capable of landing long-range scores from placed balls, another weapon in Tipperary’s armoury. McGrath is captaining the team in the absence of injured Gavin Ryan, who was nominated for the role after his club St Mary’s (Clonmel) won the county minor A title for the first time last year.

2. Brian Ryan (Limerick)

Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Tipperary must ensure that they don’t concede any frees within scoring range to Brian Ryan, who’s capable of punishing them.

Ryan scored ten points, including eight frees, in the semi-final victory over Leinster champions Dublin.

The South Liberties player also hit ten (six frees) in the quarter-final win over Wexford and earlier this year, he captured a Harty Cup medal in the colours of Ardscoil Rís.

3. Paddy Cadell (Tipperary)

JK Brackens youngster Cadell is one of Tipp’s unsung heroes at midfield.

Cadell was one of the stars for Our Lady’s Templemore on their run to a Harty Cup final earlier this year and he’s been one of Tipp’s most consistent performers during the 2016 minor championship.

Cadell played in goals for Our Lady’s at Dean Ryan level but has since evolved into an outstanding midfielder capable of covering a huge amount of ground. He provided the assist for Tipperary’s Munster final goal, scored by Jake Morris.

4. Conor Boylan (Limerick)

Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Boylan is another of the Ardscoil Rís 2016 Harty Cup winners in the Limerick camp.

The Na Piarsaigh player was one of Limerick’s better performers in their Munster final defeat, hitting two points from play.

He added three more as Limerick got back on road with victory over Wexford and in the semi-final success against Dublin, Boylan chipped in with another brace from play.

5. Cian Darcy (Tipperary)

Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Darcy is one of three starting survivors from last year’s All-Ireland minor final (Brian McGrath and Lyndon Fairbrother the others) and he took his revenge on Galway in the recent semi-final.

Darcy finished with an incredible personal haul of 3-2 but, remarkably, he didn’t score in the Munster final rout of Limerick.

One of the best traits of this Tipperary team, however, is the ability of different players to come up with the goods on different days.

6. Mark O’Kelly (Limerick)

In a county renowned for goalkeeping talent, O’Kelly looks to have a bright future in front of him.

The Croom net-minder could do little about the Jake Morris goal that scorched past him in the Munster final but he’s kept clean sheets against Leinster finalists Wexford and Dublin since then.

O’Kelly also scored a long-range free in the victory over Dublin.

7. Rian Doody (Tipperary)

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Rian Doody was man-of-the-match when Tipperary town-based outfit Abbey CBS stormed to Masita All-Ireland B schools glory earlier this year.

An accurate free-taker for the Abbey, Doody can also hit them for the county, even if Lyndon Fairbrother is the more recognised player on placed balls.

But Doody is a tall, combative player who always puts in a big shift and when Tipp hammered Galway last time out, he scored 2-2, including 2-1 from play.

8. Ciaran O’Connor (Limerick)

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

O’Connor didn’t play against Tipperary in the Munster final but he’ll have a key role on Sunday.

Operating in the sweeper role against Dublin in the semi-final, Kilmallock player O’Connor got on a world of ball and generally used it well.

Limerick are expected to adopt a similar strategy against a red-hot Tipperary at Croke Park and O’Connor will be a central figure for the young Shannonsiders.

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