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The 8 young Gaelic footballers to keep an eye on this summer

Remember the names as we tip these young guns to shine in the 2015 championship

Tipperary's Colin O'Riordan and Tyrone's Cathal McShane (9) are two rising young stars to watch out for this summer
Tipperary's Colin O'Riordan and Tyrone's Cathal McShane (9) are two rising young stars to watch out for this summer
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

1. Brian Fenton – Dublin

A member of Dublin’s All-Ireland U21 winning side in 2014, Fenton was tipped to push on for a senior spot this year.

And the Raheny man has delivered in style, impressing with a string of powerful displays in Jim Gavin’s engine-room.

Fenton also has a keen eye for a score, as demonstrated by his 1-1 haul against Monaghan in the group stages of the Allianz League campaign.

And in the final victory over Cork, Fenton forged a solid midfield partnership with Denis Bastick as the Sky Blues overran the outclassed Rebels.

Fenton will now aim to carry his superb Spring form into the white heat of championship and few would back against him succeeding.

Brian Fenton Dublin midfielder Brian Fenton is delivering on underage potential Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

2. Conor Dorman – Cork

Dorman made his senior intercounty debut for Cork in 2014 and also captained the county’s U21s last year.

Colm O’Neill is arguably Cork’s standout player of the 2015 campaign but Dorman’s is also a source of comfort for boss Brian Cuthbert heading into the summer.

Dorman is a hard-running wing-back and his endless energy levels ensure that his direct marker often ends up more preoccupied with the roving Bishopstown man.

Dorman, an engineering student at UCC, made just his second-ever appearance at Croke Park in the League final defeat to Dublin.

But Cork fans will hopefully get used to seeing plenty more of the 21-year-old in action on at the Drumcondra venue this year.

Conor Dorman Conor Dorman was Cork's best defender in the Allianz League campaign Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

5. Damien Comer – Galway

In March, Comer endured a weekend to forget, as he ended up taking early showers twice in two days.

Comer bagged 1-5 as captain of the Galway U21s against Mayo but received a black card in the closing stages.

And the very next day, he was red carded as the seniors lost out to Laois in Division 2 of the Allianz League.

But Annaghdown dual star Comer is a player of rich quality and even though he wasn’t named in the original starting line-up to play New York in Galway’s championship opener, the ace corner forward bagged 1-4 in the Big Apple when he was drafted in after a bug hit the camp.

Gerard McCartan with Damien Comer Damien Comer has already left his mark on the 2015 championship Source: Andy Marlin/INPHO

4. Colin O’Riordan – Tipperary

O’Riordan was nominated for an Allstar in his debut year at senior level and is the rock around which Tipp will strive for a major breakthrough in the years to come.

O’Riordan was also captain of the Premier County U21s that lost out narrowly to Tyrone in the recent All-Ireland final at Parnell Park but his two late scores, one of them Maurice Fitzgerald-esque from the touchline, will live long in the memory.

Still only 19, O’Riordan already boasts a career CV that is the envy of many as he is a dual All-Ireland minor medallist and a Munster U21 winning captain.

The JK Brackens colossus is a born leader and a key figure for Tipp as they aim to smash the Kerry-Cork duopoly at senior level in Munster.

Colin O'Riordan lifts the trophy Colin O'Riordan lifts the Munster U21 trophy Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

5. Ultan Harney – Roscommon

It’s already been a memorable season for Roscommon, who claimed promotion to the top flight before claiming the Allianz Football League Division 2 crown outright.

Ultan Harney has been making a big impact off the bench for the seniors after shaking off the injury problems that blighted his 2014 campaign.

A key member of Roscommon’s 2013 minor crop, Harney went on to star for the U21s in last year’s championship, scoring a magnificent goal against Cork in the All-Ireland semi-final.

Harney also bagged three points in this year’s thrilling Connacht U21 final victory over Galway before Tyrone put the shutters up in the All-Ireland semi-final.

LLuke Flynn and Ultan Harney Ultan Harney made his mark at minor and U21 level for Roscommon Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

6. Hugh McFadden – Donegal

Killybegs star McFadden adapted quickly to senior intercounty football in 2014, kicking two points on his debut against Laois in the Allianz League.

And while Donegal may have suffered a third successive Ulster U21 final defeat this year, McFadden still managed to register five points, including four frees, while operating around the middle of the field.

Multi-talented McFadden played soccer for Finn Harps and Sligo Rovers before committing to Donegal football.

And it was a memorable haul of 2-4 against Sean MacCumhaills in the 2013 Donegal SFC quarter-final that first brought him to the attention of ex-county boss Jim McGuinness.

McFadden is now a regular face in Rory Gallagher’s Donegal senior team and should feature prominently in the summer.

Hugh McFadden Hugh McFadden is one of Donegal's emerging forward talents

7. Cathal McShane – Tyrone

A host of Tyrone’s All-Ireland U21 winning team, including skipper Kieran McGeary, are tipped to make the step-up to the senior ranks.

Midfielder Cathal McShane is another Red Hand star with a bright future and he made his first full start for Mickey Harte’s seniors against St Mary’s in January’s McKenna Cup clash.

The Owen Roes clubman concentrated on U21 duties for the majority of the campaign to date and it was his superb 49th minute goal that ultimately proved the difference against Tipperary in the U21 final.

McShane was also a key member of the Tyrone minor side that lost the 2013 All-Ireland final to Mayo.

Cathal McShane Cathal McShane was superb for Tyrone's U21s this year Source: Presseye/Russell Pritchard/INPHO

8. Conor McGill – Meath

Former Meath minor captain McGill has held down the full-back position for the county’s senior team this year and manager Mick O’Dowd has been more than impressed.

McGill also represented the Royals at U21 level and he made his senior debut against Galway last February in Division 2 of the Allianz Football League.

Kevin Reilly’s injury opened the door for McGill and while the Ratoath clubman is also comfortable at centre back, his Meath home is on the edge of the square.

A product of Dunshaughlin Community College, McGill is now making waves as a senior player on the back of a promising underage career.

Conor McGill Conor McGill has claimed the Meath full-back slot in 2015 Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

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About the author:

Jackie Cahill

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