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10 young hurlers to watch out for in this summer's senior championship

These youngsters are in for a bright summer.

1. Billy McCarthy (Tipperary)

Billy McCarthy Source: James Crombie/INPHO

McCarthy is one of the new wave to emerge onto the Tipperary senior hurling panel this year.

A stand-out player for Thurles Sarsfields as they completed the four-in-a-row in the Premier County last season, McCarthy established himself on Michael Ryan’s half-forward line in the absence of more experienced players during the league.

McCarthy started five games in the spring and clipped over 1-4 during a promising debut campaign.

2. Seamus Flanagan (Limerick)

Seamus Flanagan Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Flanagan’s emergence this season surprised many in Limerick.

The Feohanagh-Castlemahon clubman was an unused substitute for the U21s in their All-Ireland final defeat of Kilkenny last September, but this season he has become a key cog in the senior attack under John Kiely.

Flanagan started every one of Limerick’s league games and bagged 1-2 for the U21s in their Munster quarter-final win over Clare on Monday.

His physical presence and ball-winning ability make him the perfect foil for the likes of Aaron Gillane and Barry Murphy in the Treaty attack.

3. Ian Galvin (Clare)

Ian Galvin Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Younger brother of established star Colm Galvin, Ian’s arrival on the scene gives the Banner another stylish young forward to work with.

Galvin was part of a star-studded UL side to lift the Fitzgibbon Cup title earlier this year and mainly featured off the bench in Clare’s league campaign.

He was one of the players to score in the historic free-taking shoot-out that Clare lost to Limeick in the quarter-final of the competition back in March, while he started in the previous round against Waterford and clipped over two points.

4. Brian Concannon (Galway)

Brian Concannon Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

In an attempt to keep things fresh after their All-Ireland success last year, Concannon was one of several new faces to feature for Galway in the league alongside Shane Cooney, Shane Bannon, Sean Linnane and Jack Coyne.

Tribe boss Micheal Donoghue has been suitably impressed with Concannon, who scored 1-2 during the spring, and will give him his championship debut against Offaly later today.

The Killimordaly man will line out at corner-forward in Tullamore as Galway begin the defence of their provincial crown.

5. Rory O’Connor (Wexford)

Rory O'Connor is fouled by Paddy Deegan Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

O’Connor is one of the most exciting prospects to emerge in Wexford hurling in some time.

Still just 19, he made his senior debut in the All-Ireland quarter-final last summer and after spending the winter out of commission due to knee surgery, he has been in sublime form so far in 2018.

O’Connor brings a star quality to the Wexford attack and has become a reliable free-taker for Davy Fitzgerald’s side. He scored 0-40 during the league and is one of their most important forwards alongside Conor McDonald and Lee Chin.

6. Ben Conneely (Offaly)

Ben Conneely and Ger Aylward Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Conneely had an impressive league for Offaly, but really underlined his quality with a fine performance in the narrow 0-24 to 1-19 quarter-final loss to Kilkenny.

A tight-marking corner-back, the St Rynagh’s defender is dominant under the high ball and has a good range of passing in his locker.

After a bright league, he’ll be given a stern test of his credentials in Leinster round-robin games against some of the best forwards in the country from Galway, Kilkenny, Dublin and Wexford.

7. Martin Keoghan (Kilkenny)

Martin Keoghan Source: James Crombie/INPHO

At 19, Keoghan is the youngest player on the Kilkenny starting 15 to face Dublin tomorrow. A hard-working half-forward with an eye for a score, the Tullaroan talent is another player who learned his trade at the famed hurling nursery St Kieran’s College.

He really announced his arrival on the scene with a thrilling show against Waterford back in February, scoring 0-5 in a clinical display.

Like his legendary clubmate Tommy Walsh, Keoghan is small in stature but makes up for that in his tenacity and desire. His father Liam won an All-Ireland as a wing-back with Kilkenny during the 1990s, and Mossy looks set to follow in his footsteps.

8. Paddy Smyth (Dublin)

Cian Darcy and Paddy Smyth Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Smyth is one of three debutants who’ll be given their first taste of championship action against Kilkenny tomorrow.

The Clontarf defender established himself at corner-back during the league with some impressive displays and Pat Gilroy has rewarded him with a starting berth against the Cats at Parnell Park.

9. Darragh Fitzgibbon (Cork)

Darragh Fitzgibbon and Kevin Moran Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Fitzgibbon burst onto the scene last summer with several inspiring displays on Cork’s run to the Munster title and All-Ireland semi-final.

The Charleville prospect came up with a talented underage crop including Shane Kingston, Mark Coleman, Luke Meade and Colm Spillane.

His pace and scoring ability from midfield saw Fitzgibbon nominated for an All-Star after a dream debut season. New manager John Meyler will be hoping for Fitzgibbon’s progress to continue this year.

10. Aaron Gillane (Limerick)

Aaron Gillane and Michael Cahill Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

Gillane’s rise to prominence this year came as no shock to anyone who watched him during Limerick’s run to the All-Ireland U21 crown last year.

He has hit 5-57 for the Shannonsiders in seven games so far this season, averaging over 10 points per game.

Gillane’s assured free-taking accuracy and goal-poaching from play makes him the most important player in the Limerick attack.

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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