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9 young Gaelic footballers to watch in 2019

You might be hearing a lot about these players in the coming season.

THE RETURN OF the Allianz Football League is just around the corner and with each new year comes fresh talent ready to burst onto the senior scene. 

David Clifford and Brian Howard lit up the championship last summer, but what young prospects will we be hearing more about in 2019? 

We’ve picked out nine youngsters who are ready to make the step up this season. 

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1. Rian O’Neill (Armagh)

Rian O'Neill and Padraig Hampsey Rian O'Neill helped Crossmaglen back on top in Armagh. Source: Declan Roughan/INPHO

O’Neill was instrumental as Crossmaglen returned to the seat of power this year in Armagh.

The 21-year-old, who is a brother of Armagh senior Oisin and nephew of county legend Oisin McConville, kicked five points from centre-forward in the county final victory.

Earlier in the summer he scored four points in Armagh’s Ulster U20 final defeat to Derry. In November, the speed merchant attended the AFL Europe Combine in UCD.

O’Neill’s Armagh team-mate Ross McQuillan is another highly-rated prospect from the county who deserves a mention.

2. Ryan O’Donoghue (Mayo)

Ryan O'Donoghue in action Ryan O'Donoghue in full flight. Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

O’Donoghue is currently sidelined after undergoing ankle surgery in the winter, but he should feature under James Horan at some stage the league.

The multi-talented sportsman spent time on the books of Sligo Rovers and is a former underage national boxing champion.

In 2018 he captained his club Belmullet to the Mayo intermediate title and Mayo U20s to Connacht glory. He’s exactly the kind of pacey forward Mayo have been crying out for.

3. Jimmy Hyland (Kildare)

Jimmy Hyland Lilywhites sharpshooter Hyland. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

The best U20 footballer in the land last year, Hyland’s rise to senior ranks in Kildare has somewhat offset the departure of Daniel Flynn in Cian O’Neill’s attack.

He scored nine points in his opening two O’Byrne Cup games of the 2019 season, continuing his excellent form of 2018 when he led the county to All-Ireland U20 glory.

4. Darragh Canavan (Tyrone)

Darragh Canavan scores a point despite Paul McNeill Darragh Canavan scores for Tyrone seniors against Derry. Source: Lorcan Doherty/INPHO

Canavan’s last name alone with strike fear into the hearts of defenders in Ulster and beyond.

He picked up plenty of traits from his father Peter, including his game intelligence, low centre of gravity and lightning speed.

Cavanan is adept at shooting off either foot and displayed his big game temperament by scoring 1-3 during Tyrone’s All-Ireland U17 win of 2017.

Mickey Harte doesn’t call many 18-year-olds into the senior panel, so he clearly believes his clubmate has a bright future ahead of him.

Source: TG4/YouTube

5. Tony Brosnan (Kerry)

Tony Brosnan tackled by Gordon Kelly Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

Brosnan is part of arguably the most talented front six in club football at present in Dr Crokes and one that’s keeping the great Colm Cooper on the bench.

Brosnan, a Kerry senior panellist and U21 player in 2016, put up some enormous scoring tallies for Crokes on their run to the Munster club crown last year.

Injuries and a lack of form derailed Brosnan for a couple of years, but he looks ready to make a mark under new boss Peter Keane.

6. Daire Ó Baoill (Donegal)

Daire O Baoill Daire Ó Baoill made his senior championship debut for Donegal last summer. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Another youngster who showed promise at other sports before settling on Gaelic football, Ó Baoill should become a more prominent player under Declan Bonner this season.

The former Finn Harps soccer player helped Gaoth Dobhair to Donegal and Ulster titles last year and bagged an impressive hat-trick in the provincial semi-final against Crossmaglen.

He made five appearances off the bench for the county in 2018 and looks set to add to that once his club run ends.

7. Kieran Molloy (Galway)

Kieran Molloy Kieran Molloy launches another Corofin attack. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Molloy famously completed a madcap afternoon last February when he played in both the All-Ireland club semi-final and Sigerson final on the same day with Corofin and NUIG respectively.

The athletic wing-back is a strong defender and loves to join the attack.

Corofin’s bid for back-to-back club crowns and a competitive Galway half-back line may hamper his chances of featuring for the Tribesmen this year, but he’s well capable of making a big splash on the county stage.

8. Cian McKeon (Roscommon)

Cian McKeon and Oisin Mullin Cian McKeon takes on the Mayo defence during the Connacht U20 final. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

The Boyle clubman was named as one of the top 20 players from the U20 All-Ireland championship after a campaign where Roscommon lost to Mayo in the Connacht final.

The corner-forward has a nose for goal and hit the net twice for the seniors in the FBD league meeting with Sligo last January.

McKeon will be hoping to impress new manager Anthony Cunningham over the coming months. 

9. David Garland (Monaghan)

David Garland dejected after the game David Garland after Tyrone's All-Ireland semi-final win over Monaghan. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Garland logged minutes in the McKenna Cup and league last year for Monaghan, but he’ll be hoping to push on in 2019.

He scored a seven-point haul in the All-Ireland Freshers final last year for DCU and provides another scoring option for Malachy O’Rourke.

The diminutive Donaghmoyne corner forward is an accurate free-taker and another year playing alongside Conor McManus should see his stock rise further. 

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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