Best in class: Ten players to watch in the Fitzgibbon Cup

Hurler of the Year Cian Lynch will be amongst the talents lining out in the illustrious third level competition which commences on Wednesday afternoon
Best in class: Ten players to watch in the Fitzgibbon Cup

Cian Lynch in action for Mary Immaculate College Limerick in the 2016 Fitzgibbon Cup final. He is playing with NUI Galway in the 2022 edition. Picture: Eóin Noonan / Sportsfile

Conor Boylan (Na Piarsaigh, UCC)

Having come on in three of Limerick’s four games last season, this is a terrific chance for UCC vice-captain Boylan to push his case for inclusion from the start. The Commerce student lined out and scored for a largely second-string Limerick last weekend in the Munster Hurling Cup and will view the Fitzgibbon Cup games as a great opportunity to impress.

Andrew Dunphy (St Brigid’s, DCU)

Dublin senior manager Mattie Kenny views the St Brigid’s man as a big talent, turning to him when Eoghan O’Donnell was injured for last year’s Leinster final. Dunphy also started last Sunday’s Walsh Cup demolition of Galway. He was full-back and captain for Dublin in the delayed 2020 All-Ireland final last July and looks set to be asked to lock down the DCU defence.

Jerry Kelly (Borris-Ileigh, IT Carlow)

A beaten Fitzgibbon Cup finalist in February of 2020, Kelly memorably sniped seven points — six from play and one from a sideline cut — in the All-Ireland club final defeat to Ballyhale Shamrocks weeks earlier at Croke Park.

Jerry Kelly of Borris-Ileigh. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Jerry Kelly of Borris-Ileigh. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

IT Carlow manager DJ Carey believes he’s still young enough to make it as a Tipperary senior, saying: “A lot of these guys can be late learners we’ll say, or be late to mature. If he gets his (Tipperary) chance, I would back him all the way.”

Colin O’Brien (Liscarroll-Churchtown Gaels, Mary I)

A memorable highlight from Cork’s 2020 All-Ireland U20 final win over Dublin last July was O’Brien cutting a sideline ball over the bar, one of two points he scored that day. Kieran Kingston added him to the senior panel after the U20 win and he was on the extended squad for August’s All-Ireland decider against Limerick.

Cian Lynch (Patrickswell, NUI Galway)

A two-time recipient of the Hurler of the Year award, in 2018 and 2021, Lynch is now chasing Fitzgibbon Cup wins with two different universities having already been successful in the competition with Mary I. He helped NUI Galway claim league honours just last week. Jeff Lynskey’s side play UCD in Belfield this evening and much of the crowd in attendance is sure to be there for Lynch alone.

Iarlaith Daly (Lismore, UCC)

Daly spoke last week about his desire to get going again after an injury-interrupted 2021. He’d just nailed down the Waterford number six jersey when he suffered a quad injury, resulting in him sitting out the ties against Galway, Tipperary, and Limerick.

Waterford's Iarlaith Daly and Cian Lynch of Limerick. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo
Waterford's Iarlaith Daly and Cian Lynch of Limerick. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

He returned to the Déise line-up last weekend and will be a key man for Fitzgibbon holders and title favourites UCC in the coming weeks.

Alan Tynan (Roscrea, TUS)

What a sporting career the Roscrea man has already had; a dual All-Ireland minor finalist in 2015, an U20 Rugby World Cup player for Ireland in 2017, a Tipperary senior panellist under Liam Sheedy in 2021. His natural physicality, allied to his strong skill set, marks him out as one to watch at this level. No doubt new Tipperary manager Colm Bonnar will be keeping a close eye.

Eoin Cody (IT Carlow, Ballyhale Shamrocks)

Jackie Tyrrell believes Cody could yet prove a generational talent within Kilkenny, describing him as a potential ‘wow’ player for the Cats. His goals last month were crucial in steering Ballyhale Shamrocks to the AIB Leinster club title.

“This guy has it all,” claimed DJ Carey, his college manager. IT Carlow will play WIT first up while Cody then has an All-Ireland club semi-final on Sunday.

Patrick ‘Bonner’ Maher (Lorrha Dorrha, TUD)

Now in his 30s and studying for a Masters in Strategic Management, Maher is an intriguing inclusion on the TUD (formerly DIT) squad list. The two-time All-Star has been injury plagued in recent seasons, suffering cruciate damage in 2019 and a season ending Achilles injury last May. If fully fit, he could lord it at this level and set himself up for a big 2022 season.

Donal O’Shea (Salthill Knocknacarra/UCD)

The son of former Tipperary manager Eamon, Donal has started both of Galway’s games so far in 2021 under Henry Shefflin, registering 1-12. He started two Leinster U20 finals last summer, losing to Dublin in the delayed 2020 final and gaining revenge in the 2021 decider weeks later.

Donal O'Shea in action for Galway U20 in 2020. Picture: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Donal O'Shea in action for Galway U20 in 2020. Picture: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Back in 2018, he struck 10 points in Galway’s All-Ireland minor final defeat of Kilkenny. Still a slight figure but hugely talented, he is a sweet free-taker with an impressive range.

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