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5 breakout hurlers from the 2014 season

Players from Tipperary, Cork, Kilkenny and Wexford caught the eye this year.

IT WAS A hurling year where Richie Hogan, Padraic Maher and TJ Reid further embellished their big-name reputations.

But 2014 also saw some new names come to the fore and take centre stage.

In no particular order, here’s five who had a breakout year.

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1. Cathal Barrett (Tipperary)

It was a year of meteoric rise for Holycross-Ballycahill defender. Having impressed as Tipperary won the Waterford Crystal Cup, he was given a chance during the national league and made the number 2 shirt his own.

While Tipp began their championship campaign with a loss to Limerick, they improved and Barrett began to gain more notice.

To the outsider, there might have been some surprise that Barrett kept Michael Cahill out of the team for the drawn All-Ireland final but the youngest player on the field put in a sterling display. Honoured with the Young Hurler of The Year Award.

Cathal Barrett 12/7/2014 Holycross-Ballycahill club man Barrett impressed this year. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

2. Alan Cadogan (Cork)

While the dual commitments of brother Eoin have drawn attention in Cork in recent times – he will play only football in 2015 – the younger Cadogan is fully focused on hurling. Having impressed for UCC in the Fitzgibbon Cup, he came on and scored two points for Cork in the league opener against Limerick and soon nailed down a starting spot.

There were periods early on in Cork’s draw with Waterford where he was the only player to front up and three points in the wins over Clare and Limerick added to his reputation. While Cork’s year ended disappointingly with defeat to Tipperary, Cadogan will be central to any resurgence in 2015.

Alan Cadogan Alan Cadogan starred in the Munster championship for Cork. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

3. Pádraig Walsh (Kilkenny)

Like the Cadogans, in Kilkenny there has been a ‘one out, one in’ approach with the Walshes in Kilkenny, but in an even more direct fashion. Tommy’s retirement came at the end of a season where he could not break into the team and one of those keeping him out the half-back line was his 22-year-old brother Pádraig.

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A half-forward at underage, it was there that Brian Cody initially deployed him during this year’s championship. Used as a sub for the drawn All-Ireland final, he was chosen in Tommy’s number 5 shirt for the replay and repaid Cody’s faith in him with an assured display.

Padraig Walsh Walsh was drafted in to the Kilkenny team for the All-Ireland final replay and produced a really impressive display. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

4. Conor McDonald (Wexford)

The Naomh Éanna man’s championship debut – while still a minor – in the extra-time defeat to Clare in 2013, might have gone largely unnoticed but he announced himself in a big way this year.

Six games yielded a scoring total of 5-10 as his ball-winning skills in the full-forward line were put to good use and he was also a key figure as the Model County won the Leinster U21 hurling title. Though Wexford hit the skids against Limerick, McDonald still showed up with two points and he will be expected to lead the line in 2015.

Conor McDonald 14/6/2014 Conor McDonald lined out for Wexford in the Bord Gáis Energy All-Ireland U21 hurling final. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

5. Darren Gleeson (Tipperary)

That he is 33 shouldn’t lessen the impact of his ‘break-out’, in fact if anything it just underlines the achievement of the goalkeeper. Brendan Cummins’ retirement might have caused some worry in Tipperary but it’s a credit to Gleeson that his predecessor’s absence never had to be cited as a drawback.

His stand-out moment was probably the excellent one-on-one save from TJ Reid in the drawn All-Ireland final and he became the oldest first-time Allstar when he was chosen.

Darren Gleeson 2014 was a huge year for Portroe's Darren Gleeson. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Who would you have picked? Let us know in the comments section below

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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