On the rise

9 young hurlers to watch out for in the 2019 season

A new campaign of Allianz hurling league action commences tonight.

A NEW HURLING league campaign heralds the start of a familiar process.

Managers are afforded the chance to introduce newcomers to the inter-county stage and figure out who could make a swift rise.

The spring of 2019 will be no different. Here’s some youngsters from a collection of counties that could make their mark in the coming weeks.

1. Diarmuid Ryan (Clare – Cratloe)

Was on the fringes of the Clare panel last year while sitting his Leaving Cert at Ardscoil Rís and aiding the Limerick school’s triumph in the Dr Harty Cup. Capped a productive January when firing 0-3 in the pre-season league final win over Tipperary and the younger brother of 2013 All-Ireland winner Conor, looks poised to shine this season.

Diarmuid Ryan Diarmuid Ryan played for his club Cratloe in last year's Clare county senior hurling final. Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO

2. Robert Downey (Cork – Glen Rovers)

Twelve months ago Downey was preparing for a Dr Harty Cup semi-final with Christian Brothers College against an Ardscoil team that had Ryan operating at the core. He now is set for a maiden senior campaign as part of John Meyler’s setup, featuring at wing-back in their two pre-season ties in Munster. A versatile operator, Downey was full-forward on the Cork minor side that reached the 2017 All-Ireland final.

Niall Deasy with Robert Downey Downey featured when Cork lost the 2017 minor final to Galway. Tommy Grealy / INPHO Tommy Grealy / INPHO / INPHO

3. Lee Gannon (Dublin – Whitehall Colmcille)

Another new era commences in Dublin with Mattie Kenny taking the managerial reins. He’ll likely use Division 1B as a platform for players to impress. Young defender Lee Gannon could be one that will come into the frame.

A combative operator in the rearguard, Gannon was part of the Dublin minor team that contested an All-Ireland semi-final in 2017. He featured for the U21 side last summer and has recent senior exposure in the Walsh Cup.

Jake Malone and Lee Gannon Lee Gannon (right) with team-mate Jake Malone after a Walsh Cup game in December. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

4. Fintan Burke (Galway – St Thomas)

The solitary Galway presence on the Bord Gáis Energy U21 hurling team of the year that was unveiled last October, Burke produced some powerful displays for that county side. He captained the U21 side that won out in Leinster last July and while they didn’t manage to claim an All-Ireland triumph, he rounded off the year in style with St Thomas in the Galway senior arena. That club glory means Burke will be pre-occupied first in 2019 with an All-Ireland bid at grassroots level but could then be an asset for Mícheál Donoghue.

Fintan Burke lifts the trophy Fintan Burke captained Galway when they defeated Wexford in last year's Leinster U21 final. Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO


5. Barry Murphy (Limerick – Doon)

A forgotten figure in a way from Limerick’s season of success. It was Murphy’s composure in finding the net that secured an opening day victory over Tipperary last May, an outcome that kick-started a journey that concluded in memorable fashion for the county.

Part of a Doon side that reached the senior final in Limerick last autumn and has hit some eye-catching totals from frees for UL in the Fitzgibbon Cup of late. The Limerick forward line will be difficult to break into but Murphy is a talented hurler.

Barry Murphy and Colm Spillane Barry Murphy goes up against Cork's Colm Spillane in the Munster championship last summer. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

6. Adrian Mullen (Kilkenny – Ballyhale Shamrocks)

Much like Fintan Burke in Galway, Mullen’s immediate focus will be on club matters. He’s gearing up for Ballyhale Shamrocks All-Ireland assignment against Ballygunner in a fortnight, hitting 2-1 in the Leinster final dismissal of Ballyboden St-Enda’s in December.

Has showcased his attacking capabilities with some distinction for St Kieran’s teams and in the Kilkenny underage ranks. A call-up from Brian Cody may beckon once his club commitments cease.

Adrian Mullen scores a goal Adrian Mullen hit key scores in Ballyhale's 2018 Leinster club final win. INPHO INPHO

7. Mark Kehoe (Tipperary – Kilsheelan Kilcash)

A different atmosphere circulates around Tipperary hurling as Liam Sheedy returns to the hotseat. 2018 ended prematurely for their senior outfit, the expectation is that he will pitch plenty U21 winners in action this spring as he attempts to fuse together a winning combination.

Mark Kehoe could be one of those handed time to audition. A strong focal point in attack, he won an All-Ireland U21 medal last August and was notably impressive when striking 1-1 in the semi-final success over Waterford. Bagged 0-2 in the Munster league final loss to Clare recently and impressed during the week for UCC in the Fitzgibbon Cup.

David Griffin and Mark Kehoe Mark Kehoe in action for Tipperary in last year's All-Ireland U21 decider. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

8. Conor Prunty (Waterford – Abbeyside)

In 2016 as Waterford cruised to an impressive All-Ireland U21 victory, Prunty was wing-back on a team dotted with established seniors. Still eligible for the U21 ranks last year, he may be now poised for a major senior breakthrough. A key cog in the defensive wheel of the Abbeyside team that progressed to the Waterford senior decider in 2018, he’ll be eager to impress under new county boss Paraic Fanning.

Aron Shanagher and Conor Prunty Conor Prunty goes up against Aron Shanagher in the Fraher Field earlier this month. Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO

9. Seamus Casey (Wexford – Oylegate Glenbrien)

In a thrilling U21 showdown last summer in Portlaoise, Casey was one of the chief protagonists as Wexford were pipped in dramatic extra-time fashion by Galway. He shot 1-9 in that Leinster final and recruitment to the senior stage has ensued as he came off the bench in last Saturday’s Walsh Cup final against the Tribesmen. Will be interesting to see how he fares in Davy Fitzgerald’s 2019 plans.

Seamus Casey and Jack Fitzpatrick Seamus Casey in action against Galway's Jack Fitzpatrick last July. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

What young hurler are you looking forward to seeing in action this season? Let us know.


Subscribe to our new podcast, Heineken Rugby Weekly on The42, here:

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel