Friday 27 January 2023 Dublin: 1°C
# eyes peeled
6 players to watch in Sunday's All-Ireland U20 football final between Mayo and Kildare
These youngsters are set for a bright future in the game.

1. Jimmy Hyland (Kildare)

Jimmy Hyland Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO

CORNER-FORWARD JIMMY Hyland has been in blistering form for the Lilywhites during this campaign.

Man-of-the-match in the convincing EirGrid Leinster U20 football final win over Dublin, Hyland has posted 1-16 in his last two games alone.

The talented Ballyteague clubman helped the Kildare minors to Leinster success in 2015 and has been involved with Cian O’Neill’s senior set-up over the past couple of years. A senior star in the making.

2. Ryan O’Donoghue (Mayo)

Ryan O'Donoghue celebrates after scoring a goal Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO

A talented boxer and soccer player in his youth, Ryan O’Donoghue is now fully focused on his fledging Mayo career. Stephen Rochford handed him his senior debut in the FBD League back in January and he’s almost certain to be handed further opportunities in 2019.

O’Donoghue lines out at centre-forward for the U20s and bagged a goal in the semi-final win over Derry, while also he netted a goal in the Connacht final when he was awarded man-of-the-match.

The pacey Belmullet youngster helped an unfancied UL side to the All-Ireland Freshers A football final last March and is hoping to deliver some silverware on Sunday.

3. Aaron Masterson (Kildare)

Aaron Masterson Tommy Dickson / INPHO Tommy Dickson / INPHO / INPHO

The Kildare skipper performs key duties for the Lilywhites at the heart of their midfield.

He helped Kildare establish dominance in the middle third against Dublin in the Leinster decider by lording the airwaves in Tullamore. He was similarly impressive in the All-Ireland semi-final victory over Kerry.

Masterson is coming off the back of an impressive 2017 club campaign, where he helped Moorefield to county and provincial titles before their season was ended by eventual winners Corofin in the All-Ireland semi-final.

4. Oisin McLoughlin (Mayo)

Oisin McLaughlin Tommy Grealy / INPHO Tommy Grealy / INPHO / INPHO

McLoughlin first rose to national prominence as an inside forward when his brace of goals helped Westport to the All-Ireland intermediate football title in February 2017 while he was still in Leaving Cert.

Since then he’s been repositioned to the half-back line in the county set-up but has continued to impress. Like O’Donoghue, McLoughlin is highly rated in Mayo and he clipped over two points against Derry the last day out.

Now playing his club football under the tutelage of former county boss James Horan, expect McLoughlin to continue his progress over the coming seasons.

5. Aaron O’Neill (Kildare)

Aaron O'Neill Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO

The Carbury stopper is Mark Donnellan’s understudy at senior level and has been marked out as a future number one in the county.

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O’Neill made several crucial saves against Dublin, with his acrobatic stop in the 25th minute on Tom Keane proving a turning point in a game that Kildare went on to win.

A minor in 2017, O’Neill made his first senior start for Kildare in the O’Byrne Cup back in January before he had even made a senior championship appearance for his club. Padraig Nash is another Kildare player who deserves a mention.

6. Ross Egan (Mayo)

Ross Egan Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO

It’s difficult to win an All-Ireland without a reliable free-taker and Mayo can certainly county on Egan’s accuracy in front of the posts.

His five-point haul played no small part in the semi-final victory, bringing his tally from the three games so far this summer to 0-25.

The Aghamore ace leads a dangerous Mayo attack, with Tommy Conroy and Conor Diskin other threats up top for Michael Solan’s well-drilled outfit.

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