Rising Stars

8 young footballers who could light up this summer's Race for Sam

Keep an eye out for these promising players over the next few months.

AFTER AN EXCITING U21 championship fueled by breakthrough talent ready to take the senior scene by storm, this summer is definitely shaping up to be an interesting one.

Some of these younger players are already making a name for themselves in their respective counties and are sure to continue their ways as they embark on the senior championship.

We look at eight players we think you’ll be hearing a lot more about in the future.

1) Peter Kelleher (Cork)

Kelleher was instrumental throughout Cork’s league campaign and has been noted as one of the breakthrough stars of 2016. The Kilmichael full-forward scored three goals during the Rebels’ league campaign – two against Roscommon and one in Croke Park against Dublin. Kelleher also lined out for the Cork U21 team who were beaten by Mayo earlier this month, and scored their only goal in that final.

[image alt="Peter Kelleher celebrates scoring their second goal of the game" src="" width="100%" height="" title="" class="alignnone" /end]

2) Stephen Coen (Mayo)

Coen captained the Mayo U21 team to victory this year. The midfielder, from the Hollymount-Carramore club, led by example from start to finish against Cork and is expected to get some championship game time with the senior team this summer.

Coen also featured twice in this year’s Allianz League.

[image alt="Stephen Coen" src="" width="100%" height="" title="" class="alignnone" /end]

3) Ciaran Thompson (Donegal)

Thompson made his senior debut for Donegal at the start of the year in the McKenna Cup. The Naomh Conaill midfielder not only scored three points but received the man of the match award for his performance against Down.

Thompson was also a prominent figure for the county U21 side both this year and last year, and looks set to follow the success of brothers Anthony and Leon in green and gold.

[image alt="Ciaran Thompson and Callum Cumiskey" src="" width="100%" height="" title="" class="alignnone" /end]

4) Ryan McAnespie (Monaghan)

The Monaghan rising star has already had quite a successful year, winning an Ulster U21 title at the start of April. McAnespie started at half-forward as Monaghan overcame Tyrone by two points.

The Emyvale club man is already an established senior panellist, coming off the bench in last year’s Ulster final as the Farney men narrowly beat Donegal as well as featuring in several league matches this spring.

[image alt="Ryan McAnespie and Patrick McBrearty" src="" width="100%" height="" title="" class="alignnone" /end]

5) Brian O’ Beaglaoich (Kerry)

A member of the 2014 All-Ireland winning team, O’Beaglaoich made his senior debut in green and gold against Clare in the McGrath Cup in January. The youngster impressed and as a result, lined out in several National League fixtures, putting in a particularly impressive performance against Dublin.

The defender, who plays his club football with An Ghaeltacht, is well able to score a point too.

[image alt="Brian O’Beaglaoich" src="" width="100%" height="" title="" class="alignnone" /end]

6) David Byrne (Dublin)

A natural born leader, the Naomh Olaf player captained the Dubs to All-Ireland success at both minor and U21 level. The defender has rightfully made his way into Jim Gavin’s starting 15, featuring at corner-back in their recent league final win over Kerry.

At the age of just 21, Byrne already has plenty of silverware to his name, and if his ability and current form is anything to go by, there’s much more to come.

[image alt="David Byrne" src="" width="100%" height="" title="" class="alignnone" /end]

7) Neil Flynn (Kildare)

A talented forward, Flynn was unlucky to be on the losing side of the Division 3 league final this year, scoring 1-6 from corner forward.

The Maynooth sharpshooter was the focal point of the Kildare U21 team both this year and last year, with his Leinster final performance standing out as a highlight. Flynn clocked up a personal tally of 0-11, which was noted as a display of kicking that only Johnny Doyle has matched in a Kildare jersey in recent times.

[image alt="Neil Flynn" src="" width="100%" height="" title="" class="alignnone" /end]

8) Sean Mulooly (Roscommon)

The Strokestown full-back returns this summer full of promise following a stint in San Francisco last year. Mulooly was handed his championship debut last weekend as the Rossies just about overcame New York, and the talented defender was named man of the Match.

The UCD student was also impressive for the U21 side last year, guiding them to their second Connacht title in a row.

[image alt="Sean Mullooly avoids Keith Scally" src="" width="100%" height="" title="" class="alignnone" /end]

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