10 hurling tyros who shone this spring

It was 2013 when people began to realise how much of a young man’s game hurling had become. 

10 hurling tyros who shone this spring

Now it’s just taken for granted that few teams carry a player 30 or over in an outfield position.

We assesses 10 of the best new faces to make a name for themselves this spring

Luke Meade (Newcestown, Cork)

We have to recognise Shane Kingston but then he was expected to explode onto the senior scene. Twenty-year-old Meade wasn’t although he did score a hat-trick of goals against Limerick in a January challenge match back in 2015. Meade is the unorthodox, if direct, type of forward that is going to ask questions of defenders long after this competition where he was electric against Waterford and chipped in with points elsewhere.

Damien Reck (Oylgate-Glenbrien, Wexford)

There is pedigree in the teenager and he has already repaid the faith Davy Fitzgerald has put in him. With the Leaving Cert on the horizon, it remains to be seen if he will feature in the upcoming Leinster championship as much as he did in the league but he has looked impressive. Against Tipperary, he made a couple of rash decisions but they can be forgiven as he feels his way into senior inter-county hurling.

Paddy Deegan (O’Loughlin Gaels, Kilkenny)

With Michael Fennelly deemed doubtful by Brian Cody for the Leinster semi-final, Deegan may be the man to partner either Cillian Buckley or Conor Fogarty in the centre. Cody likely saw enough of the 21-year-old in his solid displays against Cork, Tipperary and Dublin to know he can do a job for him even if the manager has previously been adverse to throwing young talent in at the deep end.

Steven O’Brien (Ballina, Tipperary)

Steven O’Brien of Tipperary has to add some polish to his game but his strength, aerial power, and ability to score stand out. Picture: Inpho/Ryan Byrne
Steven O’Brien of Tipperary has to add some polish to his game but his strength, aerial power, and ability to score stand out. Picture: Inpho/Ryan Byrne

After making a glimpse of an appearance as a substitute in last year’s Division 1 quarter-final defeat to Clare in Ennis, there were concerns that the accomplished young footballer hadn’t made the right decision in choosing to join Michael Ryan’s panel.

O’Brien has to add polish to his game but his strength and aerial ability stand out and he can score too as proven by the late equalising point against Kilkenny, three points in the win over Clare and a goal in Tullamore.

Adrian Tuohy (Beagh, Galway)

Not 24 until next month and having made his senior debut last year, Tuohy is a versatile player but looks so dynamic in the centre. In that way, he’s in the mould of Johnny Coen who has played almost everywhere from right corner-back to midfield. Dislocating an elbow in the first half against Tipperary last August, he was missed but has built on what was a surprise inclusion in the championship teams in 2016.

Stephen Bennett (Ballysaggart, Waterford)

Stephen Bennett: Looks to have put hip injury turmoil behind him.
Stephen Bennett: Looks to have put hip injury turmoil behind him.

Not 22 until October, hip injuries have curtailed Bennett’s progress in recent times but this spring he looked to have put those issues all behind him. His ability to turn from scorer to provider and back again makes him almost a new player for Derek McGrath looking ahead to the summer. He was deadly in Waterford’s vital win over Clare and almost guided them to an unlikely quarter-final victory against Galway.

Gearóid Hegarty (St Patrick’s, Limerick)

A total of 2-16 from play, Hegarty is one man who will take plenty from what was such a mixed bag of a league campaign for Limerick. Turning 23 this year, he made his senior debut in 2015 and started against Tipperary last summer but then was restricted to roles from the bench against Westmeath and Clare. John Kiely will find it difficult not to start him in the Munster semi-final clash with Clare.

Aaron Shanagher (Wolfe Tones, Clare)

Only 20 this year, Shanagher announced himself last season when his goal helped Clare see off Tipperary on their way to a league title but in starting roles this year he has been a real target man when his team have chosen to go direct. He was a colossal figure against Kilkenny when he scored 1-4.

Given more time together, he and Shane O’Donnell can be a real complementary force in the full-forward line.

Donal Burke (Na Fianna, Dublin)

In the stead of club-tied David Treacy, it was Burke who proved to be a reasonably steady hand at the tiller from placed balls with 1-23 of his 2-29 total coming from frees and two points from 65s. When Treacy did return against Clare to resume free-taking duties, Burke fashioned three points from play. The teenager already looks settled in top level hurling.

Jack O’Connor (St Martin’s, Wexford)

O’Connor is big and athletic enough as it is but at 21 he still has plenty of developing to do, which is only a good thing for Wexford given that he already has a number of consistent displays to his name under Davy Fitzgerald. Another up-and-coming Wexford hurler with strong lineage, O’Connor made his senior debut with another starlet in David Dunne against Dublin in last year’s Leinster quarter-final

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