# Ones to watch
7 of the best young ladies footballers to look out for this summer
Often in the shadows of established names like Cora Staunton, the ladies championship showcases some fine younger talent.

WITH THE LADIES football championship off to a start and each county opening their respective campaigns in the coming weeks, this summer promises an abundance of excitement and talent.

Often overlooked because of their male counterparts, our country hosts a huge selection of talented ladies footballers who, at times, fly under the radar.

Most people have heard of established players like Cora Staunton and Valerie Mulcahy, but it takes years to make a name for yourself in Ladies GAA.

Quality younger players are there in abundance, adding energy and intensity to games. We took a look at some of the rising stars that you should keep an eye out for over the championship period.

Aimee Mackin – Armagh

One of the most exciting breakthrough talents of recent times, the forward is undoubtedly one to watch in Armagh’s championship campaign.

Hailed a “phenomenal talent” by established Orchard star Caroline O’Hanlon, Mackin was last week named at corner-forward on the Division 1 Team of the League.

LadiesFootballTV / YouTube

The Queens student’s performances have been outstanding so far this year, with her main attributes being pace, skill and accuracy.

Nicola Ward – Galway

This year has already been quite successful for Ward. Not only did she help her UCD side win their first O’Connor Cup in 10 years, she was named Player of the Match in the final and was also awarded a HEC All-Star. From the Kilkerrin/Clonberne club, the 2012 Young Player of the Year is a huge threat when she attacks from half-back.

Nicola Ward Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Ciara Murphy – Kerry

Another O’Connor Cup winner and captain of the team, Murphy has really peaked this year. Like Ward, she also received a HEC All-Star. The defender was named on the Division 1 Team of the League for her performances in green and gold earlier this year, and she is expected to carry this form through to championship.

Orla Finn – Cork

The pacy corner-forward has been in remarkable form for Cork this year. She was pivotal throughout the league, particularly in the final, contributing six points and rightfully claiming the Player of the Match title. At the age of 24, Finn has peaked in the past few months and if she is to continue her recent from, she’s destined to become a household name in ladies football over the coming years.

Orla Finn Tommy Grealy / INPHO Tommy Grealy / INPHO / INPHO

She’s another who was named on the Division 1 Team of the League and her skill and accuracy will be vital for Cork if they are to retain their All-Ireland title for a sixth consecutive year.

Niamh O’Dea – Clare

The Clare full-forward is dangerous on the ball and the focal point of the Banner attack. Named at number 14 on the Division 2 Team of the League, O’Dea has also been one of UL’s main players over the past few years, helping them to back-to-back O’Connor Cup wins in 2014 and 2015.

Niamh O'Dea Ryan Byrne / INPHO O'Dea is also a talented camóg. Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Amber Barrett – Donegal

Over the past few years, Barrett has been terrorising teams at underage level with her goalscoring. Although she has made her name at senior level, Barrett is often absent due to her soccer commitments at both club and international level. She’s performing well this year, having scored 1-2 as Donegal dismissed Westmeath in their league final, and the sharp-shooter is one to keep an eye on this summer.

Amber Barrett, Geraldine McLaughlin and Kety Herron Donall Farmer / INPHO Donall Farmer / INPHO / INPHO

Niamh Kelly- Mayo

A standout underage star for Mayo, Kelly has slotted in nicely to the Mayo forward line and is sure to have a huge impact on the scoreline any time she lines out.

She led her St Pat’s fresher team to success at the O’Connor Cup weekend in 2015, and had a massive influence on their Giles Cup win this year. Her pace and skill, as well as danger in front of the posts, mark her out as a huge threat to opposing defenders.

Niamh Kelly Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

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