# Catching The Eye
8 players to watch in this year's All-Ireland U21 hurling championship
The throw-in is tonight and there’s plenty young stars to watch out for.

THE THROW-IN for the 2014 Bord Gáis Energy All-Ireland U21 hurling championship takes place tonight with Dublin facing Laois.

The competition always unearths new young hurling prospects and here’s eight to keep an eye on this season.

1. Pa O’Callaghan (Cork)

Cork’s minor hurling travails have been well documented in recent years but O’Callaghan did emerge as a bright spark in attack. A 2011 Dr Harty Cup finalist with Charleville CBS, he also played for three years with the county minor side in an unsuccessful phase.

O’Callaghan is a free-scoring forward. He hit 0-10 during Cork’s extra-time loss to Waterford in last June’s Munster minor semi-final and bagged 0-11 for his club Ballyhea in their championship opener last Saturday night in a free taking exhibition.

James Crombie James Crombie

2. Padraig Brehony (Galway)

One of the stars of Galway’s All-Ireland minor triumph in 2011, Brehony struck 0-4 in that final success over Dublin. He was quickly brought into the senior setup and featured last year for Anthony Cunningham’s side.

A versatile operator, the DCU Fitzgibbon Cup player has featured regularly at midfield for the senior team this spring. He looks set to make a push for a senior championship place and will be a pivotal member of the U21 team.

Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

3. Jack Browne (Clare)

The Ballyea club enjoyed a bumper 2013 hurling season with Tony Kelly the top senior hurler in the country and Paul Flanagan captaining the All-Ireland U21 winning side. Amidst the hoard of medals accumulated was Jack Browne’s, corner-back on that U21 team.

He’s made the senior step up in 2014 and is still eligible for the U21 grade. A impressive disciplined defender, he will be the cornerstone of their rearguard in a team packed with glamour names like Kelly, Colm Galvin and Shane O’Donnell.

James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

4. Michael Breen (Tipperary)

A Ballina native, Breen anchored the Tipperary defence that won the 2012 All-Ireland minor title. He impressed at full-back then and was also involved at corner-back for the Tipperary U21’s that contested last August’s All-Ireland final.

UCC student Breen made his senior bow in the league semi-final last month against Clare after a spring hampered by injury. Can also play at midfield but full-back looks to be his natural home.

Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

5. Stephen Bennett (Waterford)

Bennett burst to the fore in 2011 as a 16 year-old when he bagged a hat-trick for the Waterford minor side in the Munster semi-final against Limerick. Since then he’s continued to forge a reputation and was instrumental in Waterford’s historic All-Ireland minor title success last September.

He’s been hit by injuries this spring which have curtailed his fledgling senior career. But the Ballysaggart player has rich potential and Waterford will hope he can impact at the U21 grade this summer.

Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

6. Richard English (Limerick)

Limerick are out in action next Wednesday night in their Munster U21 opener with three-in-a-row chasing Clare standing in their path. It’s a tough task for Limerick but they’ll be hoping to harness the products of lat year’s Munster minor winning team.

Captain of that team Richard English is a player capable of making the step up. From the Doon club, he anchored the Limerick defence at full-back last year.

Lorraine O'Sullivan / INPHO Lorraine O'Sullivan / INPHO / INPHO

7. Kevin Kelly (Kilkenny)

Kelly impressed on the 2010 All-Ireland minor winning Kilkenny side, rifling over three points against Clare in that final. He didn’t enjoy success the year after but has stepped up to the U21 ranks.

The St Patrick’s club man is a fine talent and looks particularly impressive in a half-forward role, from where he shot 0-7 in last year’s Leinster U21 final loss to Wexford.

Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

8. Colm Cronin (Dublin)

The Cuala club man got his chance to impress during the league this season and did well in those senior auditions for Anthony Daly’s side. He’s going to be one of their emerging talents this summer and will also be a central figure for the county U21 side.

Cronin was part of the Dublin minor hurling sides that suffered the huge disappointment of defeat in the 2011 and 2012 All-Ireland deciders. He won’t lack motivation in the U21 grade this spring.

Donall Farmer / INPHO Donall Farmer / INPHO / INPHO

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