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Dublin: 7 °C Wednesday 19 December, 2018

18 for 18: Daire Connery a Cork hurling prospect that shone over the past year

The Na Piarsaigh youngster enjoyed a superb 2017 campaign.

OVER THE NEXT 10 days, our 18 for 18 series will look at 18 Irish athletes aged 18 or younger set for a big 2018. You can read the rest of the series here

Daire Connery celebrates the win with Fergus Ryan Daire Connery celebrates June's Munster semi-final replay win for Cork over Tipperary. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Cork’s underage hurling woes had been a source of angst for those within the county in recent years and a portent for a gloomy future for the sport on Leeside in the eyes of national observers.

2017 brought about a breakthrough for Cork underage teams. They claimed glory in the inaugural All-Ireland U17 championship, ended a nine-year wait for a Munster minor crown and only fell short of adding an All-Ireland title by two points in a pulsating final against Galway.

A bunch of players demonstrated their status as excellent future prospects with Sean O’Leary Hayes, Brian Turnbull and Evan Sheehan prominent for the minor team.

And at the heart of both the U17 and minor sides progress was midfielder Daire Connery, the Na Piarsaigh teenager who produced a series of eye-catching performances.

Connery excelled for the U17 team and was particularly prominent in the All-Ireland decider victory over Dublin. He chipped in with 0-6 and after Dublin were reduced to 14 men, Connery was the spare man in defence who consistently mopped up possession and distributed it intelligently.

Cork's Daire Connery celebrates at the final whistle Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

That game illustrated two key qualities that Connery demonstrated in the Cork minor side’s campaign – his ability to supply points from open play or dead balls and the deliveries he could arrow towards his attack from the middle third.

Over the course of six championship outings for the minor side, Connery struck 0-28 with ten of those knocked over from play. His scoring touch was a major asset to Cork’s fortunes.

The two-game Munster semi-final saga with Tipperary was the pivotal moment in Cork’s season. They dug out an extra-time draw in Thurles before securing victory in a riveting Monday night replay in Páirc Uí Rinn. On both nights Connery was to the fore in Cork’s best play as he hit 0-13 over the course of those two matches.

Daire Connery scores a point Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Success propelled Cork towards a Munster final and opened up their season. They didn’t end up celebrating on the first Sunday of September but it was still a breakthrough campaign for Connery and he was selected midfield on the GAA’s minor hurling team of the year.

A student at Gaelcholáiste Mhuire AG, he will be in action in early January as an integral member of his school’s Dr Harty Cup team that face a Munster quarter-final tie against Árdscoil Rís.

The changes to the eligbility rule for the minor hurling grade mean Connery will be overage in 2018 but could be a prospect for the county U21 squad. Regardless this year illustrated the Na Piarsaigh player has a promising hurling future.

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

The young and the restless: 10 young hurlers who burst onto the scene in 2017

Quiz: Do you know what county these 2017 Gaelic football club winners are from?

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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