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10 young footballers to watch out for in this summer's senior championship

These players are in for a bright summer.

1. Eoin Lowry (Laois)

Eoin Lowry Source: James Crombie/INPHO

A TWO-TIME Sigerson Cup winner with UCD, Lowry has been slow to make an impact with Laois on the senior stage.

He was in and out of the county senior panel over the last two seasons, but has established himself at corner-forward in John Sugrue’s first campaign in charge.

The Killeshin player kicked three points in the Division 4 final win over Carlow and features in a talented Laois forward line alongside Donie Kingston and Ross Munnelly.

2. Cian Johnson (Offaly)

Cian Johnson and Martin O'Connor Johnson as a minor in 2016 Source: Tom Beary/INPHO

Johnson has been busy so far in 2018, making his senior Offaly debut during the Division 3 campaign while also leading his school Gallen CS Ferbane to the Leinster Schools senior ‘B’ final in March.

The 18-year-old bagged 1-3 in the provincial schools final defeat to Lucan CBS and will be a key part of Stephen Wallace’s Faithful squad who face Wicklow in the Leinster SFC opener on 13 May.

Johnson played some soccer with Shelbourne and Athlone Town in the past before committing fully to GAA.

3. Sean O’Shea (Kerry)

Séan O’Shea and Michael Darragh MacAuley Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

David Clifford’s arrival on the senior scene was well-flagged after his minor exploits in 2017, but Kerry supporters were also intrigued by the prospect of O’Shea joining the attack.

He won All-Ireland minor titles with Kerry in 2015 and 2016, before being called-up to the senior panel last July by Eamonn Fitzmaurice. O’Shea didn’t see any game-time last year, but grasped his opportunity in the league.

O’Shea pulling the strings to great effect at centre-forward and appears to be the long-term answer at 11 for the Kingdom. His ability to pick out Paul Geaney and Clifford with kick-passes will be key to Kerry’s prospects this summer.

4. Eoin Murchan (Dublin)

Eoin Murchan Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Brian Howard and Colm Basquel fitted seamlessly into the Dublin attack this spring, while Eoin Murchan has been another impressive graduate of the Sky Blue underage system.

The Na Fianna defender was a central figure in Dublin’s All-Ireland U21 success last year under his fellow clubman Dessie Farrell, while a hamstring injury ruled him out of UCD’s Sigerson Cup final win in February. Although small in stature, Murchan is a tight man-marker and confident in possession.

There’s a fierce competition for places in the Dublin backline, but Murchan hoping to see plenty of action as Dublin bid for a fourth All-Ireland title in-a-row.

5. Ciaran Lennon (Roscommon)

Cian Mackey and Ciaran Lennon Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Clann na nGael’s Lennon joined his brother Fergal on the Roscommon team this season, although both players operate at either end of the field.

Standing at 6’2″, Ciaran has been a good target man for Kevin McStay’s side at full-forward and he sparkled against Cork with a three-point haul last month.

With Donie Smith, Diarmuid Murtagh, Ciarain Murtagh and Conor Devaney all capable score-getters, Lennon’s ball-winning ability on the edge of the squad means Roscommon are extremely dangerous on the counter-attack.

6. Eoin O’Donoghue (Mayo)

Eoin O’Donoghue and Shane Enright scuffle Source: John McVitty/INPHO

O’Donoghue and Caolan Crowe were two of Stephen Rochford’s major finds during this league campaign.

Given the strength of the Mayo defence already, Rochford might have preferred to source some new attacking talent but O’Donoghue’s rise could release Paddy Durcan or Lee Keegan to roles further up the field.

Rated by many as Mayo’s most consistent performer so far in 2018, O’Donoghue raced forward to kick a fine point against Donegal on the final day. He’ll get a stern test in the Connacht semi-final against Galway.

7. Sean Andy Ó Ceallaigh (Galway)

Sean Andy O Ceallaigh dejected after the game Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Galway’s return to Division 1 this year couldn’t have gone much better and one of the biggest reasons for that was Sean Andy Ó Ceallaigh’s excellence at full-back.

He helped the Tribesmen U21s to the All-Ireland final last year, where they fell to Dublin, before spending the summer in the States. Kieran Donaghy’s dominant performance in the All-Ireland quarter-final had Galway fans longing for Ó Ceallaigh’s eventual return.

He made the number 3 position his own right from the off in 2018 and is part of a talented young nucleus in Kevin Walsh’s squad alongside Kieran Molloy, Peter Cooke, Sean Kelly, Michael Daly and Robert Finnerty.

8. David Garland (Monaghan)

Ben McCormack tackled by Barry Kerr and David Garland Garland (right) made his senior debut during the league this year Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

Nippy corner-forward Garland gave an early indication of his talent with a haul of 1-4 in Monaghan’s McKenna Cup win over Queen’s University in January.

He made his league debut shortly afterwards and while he didn’t log huge minutes in the highly competitive Division 1, Garland shone for DCU in the All-Ireland Freshers 1 football final in March.

Monaghan manager Malachy O’Rourke has plenty of talented forwards to call upon with Conor McManus, Jack McCarron and Conor McCarthy in his ranks, but Donaghmoyne prospect Garland is another option off the bench.

9. Jamie Brennan (Donegal)

Jamie Brennan Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Brennan led Donegal to their first Ulster U21 crown since 2010 last year, while he also made his senior league and championship debuts under Rory Gallagher.

New manager Declan Bonner worked with Brennan for a decent chunk of his underage career and has paired the Bundoran attacker alongside Paddy McBrearty in a lively full-forward line.

Brennan has lightning pace and an eye for goal, and he’s thriving under the more offensive kicking game Bonner has employed. McBrearty will garner much of the attention from opposing defenders in Ulster, leaving pressure on Brennan to put up big scores.

10. Liam Casey (Tipperary)

Liam Casey celebrates scoring a goal Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

With his college UCD trailing NUIG by a point in the dying minutes of the Sigerson Cup final, Tipperary native Liam Casey popped up with two late points to deliver the third-level title to Belfield for the 34th time in their illustrious history.

Casey made his senior debut with the Premier in 2015, before he missed the 2016 championship after spending the summer in Chicago.

The 22-year-old has formed a solid midfield partnership with Steven O’Brien for Liam Kearns’s outfit this year, who’ll be hoping to make it past Waterford and Cork to appear in the Munster final in the summer.

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Kevin O'Brien

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