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On our radar! 7 young hurlers to watch in 2018

These emerging stars could be in for breathrough seasons on the hurling field.

THE 2018 ALLIANZ hurling leagues commence on Saturday night as the new season gets underway.

As ever, much of the focus in the spring will be on what youngsters emerge. Here are seven players we think are in for a big year.

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1. Ger Browne (Tipperary – Knockavilla Kickhams)

Ger Browne with Enda Fahy Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Tipperary’s U21 campaign amounted to just one game in 2017, but Ger Browne was still nominated for a place at midfield on the U21 Hurling Team of the Year.

Browne was a key part of the all-conquering Tipperary minor side of 2016 that delivered Munster and All-Ireland titles.

The Knockavilla Kickhams clubman has quickly risen up the ranks to Michael Ryan’s senior set-up for the coming season. Browne is a talented stickman, and fired in 3-7 during a challenge game victory over Laois in December.

2. Ronan Lynch (Limerick – Na Piarsaigh)

Ronan Lynch and Gavin O'Mahony Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

Ronan Lynch has ticked all the boxes required to be a future inter-county star. He was centre-back in the Na Piarsaigh team that lifted the All-Ireland club title in 2016, while he started in both of Limerick’s All-Ireland U21 winning campaigns in 2015 and 2017.

A graduate of the famed Ardscoil Ris hurling academy in Limerick city, Lynch won a Harty Cup medal during his school days.

He was a promising rugby player in his teenage years, playing up to Junior Cup level in school and with Shannon underage sides, but hurling eventually took over.

Source: Hurling To The Core/YouTube

3. Darren Browne (Cork – Kanturk)

Darren Browne is the latest talented young hurler to roll off the production line in Cork. Captain of the Cork U21 hurlers last year, he shot to prominence as Kanturk won the Cork premier intermediate title and went on to land the Munster intermediate title in November to complete a fairytale season.

Darren Browne with Seamus Flanagan Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Another nominee for the U21 Hurling Team of the Year, Browne has been name-checked by Cork boss John Meyler as a youngster who should see some game-time in the league.

In the short-term, Browne has an All-Ireland semi-final with his club to look forward to this weekend.

4. Alan Murphy (Kilkenny – Glenmore)

Alan Murphy scores the equalising point of the game in extra to force free's Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

As Brian Cody works with an extended panel of over 50 players, Alan Murphy has been one of the most promising forwards during the pre-season. As the Kilkenny free-taker, Murphy posted 1-26 in his three Walsh Cup games, including 1-13 in the final defeat to Wexford.

The Glenmore ace was a minor All-Ireland winner with the Cats in 2014 and became a key forward for Eddie Brennan’s U21s in their run to the All-Ireland final last summer.

A younger brother of goalkeeper Eoin, Murphy was involved in the senior panel in 2017 but looks set for a bigger role in the coming season.

5. Thomas Monaghan (Galway – Craughwell)

Galway's Thomas Monaghan celebrates a late score Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Thomas Monaghan faces the unenviable task of breaking into the star-studded Galway forward line, but he has been racking up silverware at an impressive rate over the last few years.

Monaghan led the Tribesmen to All-Ireland minor glory in 2015 and secured a Fitzgibbon Cup title with Mary Immaculate College in 2017.

Frequently used as a substitute for Micheal Donoghue’s seniors, Monaghan also picked up league, Leinster and All-Ireland medals to round off a whirlwind year.

The Craughwell forward will expect increasing game-time in the coming year.

6. Ryan Taylor (Clare – Clooney-Quin)

Ryan Taylor Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Ryan Taylor was part of the Clare U21 side to reach their fourth Munster final in-a-row at the grade in 2015, where they lost to Limerick.

He played a pivotal role at midfield as Clooney-Quin took Sixmilebridge to a replay in the Clare SHC final, scoring three points between the two games.

Taylor’s club form saw him called up into the Clare senior panel, and joint-manager Donal O’Connor recently stated he has “been very impressive” so far in the pre-season.

7. Cathal Dunbar (Wexford – Ballygarret)

Cathal Dunbar Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Cathal Dunbar’s only senior championship appearance for Wexford in 2017 arrived off the bench in the Leinster final against Galway, but the corner-forward should see more action this year.

Dunbar bagged a hat-trick in Wexford’s brilliant Leinster U21 semi-final win over Carlow last June, while he posted 1-1 in the final loss to Kilkenny.

Dunbar combined Fitzgibbon Cup duties under DJ Carey at IT Carlow with Wexford’s Walsh Cup campaign in January, with 2-6 to his name after five games.

Source: Hurling To The Core/YouTube

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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