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6 players to watch as Waterford and Galway clash for All-Ireland U21 honours

The Bord Gáis Energy All-Ireland U21 hurling title is up for grabs on Saturday.

1. Brian Molloy (Galway)

Jake Malone with Brian Molloy Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

THE TRIBESMEN WILL be even more reliant on Molloy than usual due to the expected absence of senior star Conor Whelan to injury.

Molloy, Galway’s free-taker, scored 10 points in their semi-final win over Dublin, including four from play in a performance that earned him man-of-the-match.

The Kilnadeema-Leitrim forward is a bright talent for the future. He was just 15 when he joined up with Galway’s minor squad and made his senior debut in the 2015 Walsh Cup.

2. Conor Gleeson (Waterford)

Colin Fennelly under pressure from Conor Gleeson and Philip Mahony Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

The man John Mullane describes as the best man-marker on the Waterford senior panel.

He made his first championship start for the Deise seniors against Kilkenny in the drawn semi-final and performed admirably.

Gleeson, a talented footballer too, was an All-Ireland minor winner with this group in 2013. He’ll be hoping to bookend an impressive season with another strong performance and an All-Ireland title.

3. Sean Loftus (Galway)

Sean Loftus lifts the trophy Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Lotfus skippered Galway minors to the All-Ireland minor hurling title in 2015 and quickly made the jump to the U21 squad a year later.

He operated as a sweeper in the Tribe’s 4-13 to 1-16 win over Tipperary in last year’s minor final and continues in that role for the U21s.

The young defender was named Galway minor hurler of the year in 2015. We’ll be seeing him in the senior ranks before long.

4. Patrick Curran (Waterford)

Patrick Curran with Eoin Larkin Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

Curran bagged an impressive 2-7 in the semi-final against Antrim, including 2-3 from play. That brings his tally in the U21 championship to 2-25 in just three games.

The Waterford corner-forward is deadly accurate on placed balls and having spent much of the championship on the bench for the Waterford seniors, he’s thriving in a key attacking role for the U21s.

5 Dan Nevin (Galway)

Conor Byrnes and Daniel Nevin Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

12 months ago Nevin scored five points from play as Galway delivered the All-Ireland intermediate title with a nine point win over Cork.

The Cappataggle midfielder has continued his scoring touch into 2016, chipping in with three points in Galway’s last four defeat of Dublin.

Included in Nevin’s tally the last time out was an impressive sideline cut. He’ll have a key influence on proceedings at centrefield against Waterford.

6. Tom Devine (Waterford)

Tom Devine is tackled by Cian Dillon Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

Devine’s directness and power makes him a nightmare for opposing defenders.

He bagged 1-2 in the semi-final win over Antrim from the half-forward line.

After playing just nine minutes of the two semi-final tussles with Kilkenny for the Deise seniors, Devine will be out to prove Derek McGrath he’s deserving of a starting spot next season.

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