Monday 30 January 2023 Dublin: 6°C
# Rising Stars
7 players to watch in the Connacht U21 football championship
The provincial campaign out West gets underway this week and here are our men to keep an eye on.

THE EIRGRID CONNACHT U21 football championship swings into action this week when defending champions Roscommon host Galway in Kiltoom on Friday evening.

Here, we’ve taken a closer look at 7 players who are likely to have a big say in the destination of Western honours.

1. Diarmuid O’Connor (Mayo)

Presseye / Andrew Paton/INPHO Presseye / Andrew Paton/INPHO / Andrew Paton/INPHO

The 2015 Young Footballer of the Year is a key player for Mayo as they look to win a first Connacht U21 crown since 2009.

From the Ballintubber club, talented attacker Diarmuid is younger brother of Cillian, who twice won the individual award.

Cillian is currently injured but Diarmuid has been in good form for Mayo this year at senior level, and he scored 1-1 against Monaghan last Sunday as the Westerners finally got off the mark in Division 1.

2. Ronan Daly (Roscommon)

Ken Sutton / INPHO Ken Sutton / INPHO / INPHO

Daly is a survivor from the Roscommon teams that captured the last two Connacht U21 crowns.

He was a sub in 2014 but made his mark as an attacking wing-back on the starting team last year.

One of a gifted generation of rising young Roscommon stars, Padraig Pearses clubman Daly has two brothers on the county senior panel – Conor and team captain Niall.

3. Enda Tierney (Galway)

Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

Tierney made his senior debut for Galway during last year’s FBD League campaign, tasted Allianz League action and also featured for the Tribesmen during the championship.

The Oughterard player was among the goals during the FBD League campaign and has seen regular game time during the Allianz League.

Tierney can operate around the middle of the field but looks set to nail down a place in attack for the seniors.

Tierney certainly doesn’t lack in size as he’s 6ft 4″ tall and after being named on the local intermediate club dream team last year, a bright future lies in store.

4. Enda Fowley (Leitrim)

The significance of Leitrim’s forthcoming semi-final against Mayo won’t be lost on full-back Enda Fowley.

As a minor, he broke his leg a week before Leitrim were due to play Mayo three years ago but the wheel has now come full circle in the U21 grade.

Fowley is a promising graduate from recent development squads and one of the few players who has made it through from U16.

In 2014, Fowley starred for his club Dromahair as they claimed county intermediate honours.

5. Cian Breheny (Sligo)

James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

An established senior player, Breheny is still eligible for the U21 grade with Sligo.

Playing at midfield for the seniors, Breheny’s style of play has been likened to Yeats County legend Eamonn O’Hara, who’s his uncle.

The breeding is strong as Cian is son of Tommy, who guided Sligo to Connacht SFC glory in 2007, and nephew of current senior team captain Mark.

Breheny had a two-week trial with AFL side Hawthorn Hawks in 2014 and he won a county SFC medal with St Mary’s last year. 

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6. Stephen Coen (Mayo)

James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Stephen Coen was a member of the Hollymount-Carramore team that contested last month’s AIB All-Ireland intermediate club football final against St Mary’s of Kerry.

He put that disappointment behind him to land Sigerson Cup honours with UCD earlier this month.

Captain of the Mayo minors that won the 2013 All-Ireland crown, Coen appeared as a sub for the seniors in last year’s semi-final replay defeat against Dublin.

7. Cathal Compton (Roscommon)

Donall Farmer / INPHO Donall Farmer / INPHO / INPHO

Compton was one of Roscommon’s joint-captains when they captured the EirGrid All-Ireland U21 Connacht title last year.

He’s captain of the team this year while also hoping to make an impact with the senior team as the year progresses.

Compton, from the Strokestown club, is a successful graduate from the minor ranks who looks to have a bright future ahead of him.

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