It’s now looking like a July start to the provincial championship and by the time that comes around, we’ll all be chomping at the bit.
And while I’ve been sitting out in the sun the last few days, I’ve been thinking of the players who I’m most looking forward to seeing, particularly in my native Leinster. Here they are….
CIARAN ARCHER (DUBLIN)
With Dublin dominating for so long, it’s been hard for young players to break into their team. However, there are a few players waiting in the wings and one of those is Ciaran Archer. He’s been a goalscoring machine for the Dublin U20’s for the last couple of years and he’s already been on the senior panel.
There are a lot of players in the queue ahead of him but he’s a name to look out for when he gets his chance. Lorcan O’Dell and Luke Swan are two other young Dubs to follow but Ciaran Archer is the obvious one for me.
ADAM TYRRELL (KILDARE)
Kildare have had plenty of underage success in recent years and they won the U20 All Ireland final two years ago, when Jimmy Hyland was their star player. The player I think worth following though is Adam Tyrrell, who’s already made a number of appearances in the league earlier. The one thing that impresses me about him is that he’s a good scorer and these days, Kildare aren’t noted as having good scoring forwards. He impressed me when scoring five points against Roscommon and being a Moorefield man, he’ll be playing at a high standard in senior club matches as well. Its good forwards like Adam that Jack O’Connor will be looking out for.
CATHAL HICKEY (MEATH)
There are a number of good players in Meath who are coming through nicely, with Mathew Costello and Jack O’Connor being two to have caught my eye. But the one who’s impressed me most is Cathal Hickey, who is one of the best prospects in Meath. He hasn’t played in the league yet but I had him in my school so I’ve seen a lot of him. He plays his football with Seneschalstown and he plays at half back. He’s got a great football brain, he’s a wonderful athlete and I think he’s got a very bright future.
EVAN O’CARROLL (LAOIS)
The one player who has been outstanding on a consistent basis for Laois, and he’s still only a young fella, is Evan O’Carroll. In most of Laois’ league games, he’s been putting up big totals and that’s what Laois badly need. He scored a brilliant goal against Roscommon in the league and he’s a goalscorer, which is exactly what Laois have been without. It’s also a big help that he’s been playing Sigerson Cup football with UCD and that competition is a wonderful breathing ground for young footballers.
CIARAN BYRNE (LOUTH)
Louth are struggling in Division 3 and a few years ago, they lost Ciaran Byrne to Australia. Well, he’s come home and despite suffering an injury, he’s the man they need. He’s a left-footed player and he’s a great scorer. He played with Carlton in the AFL for four years and I recall him playing for Dundalk at college level too, where he was outstanding. He also played in the 2013 International Series so he has a lot of experience. Ciaran is the type of player who would be a massive asset to any team not just his home county.
AARON KEELAGHAN (OFFALY)
Things in Offaly are beginning to improve under John Maughan but they haven’t won a Leinster title since 1997. That day against Meath, Pascal Keelaghan was on their team and it’s his son Aaron who I’m excited by most in the Offaly setup. He hasn’t made the senior team yet but he’s done very well at minor level and he’s a player very much to look out for. Aaron, and another bright prospect in Cian Johnson, look two players who will be committed to Offaly, will be hungry to do well and could make a big impact over the next few years.
NIALL HUGHES (WEXFORD)
Things in Wexford under Paul Galvin have been very much up and down so far but the one player for Wexford who has impressed me most is Niall Hughes. He plays in midfield and is a very strong and mobile athlete. He’s a good scorer as well and I think Paul Galvin needs to build a midfield around Niall Hughes if he wants to succeed. He’s a player we’re going to be hearing a good bit about in the years to come.
SHANE FLEMING (WESTMEATH)
Jack Cooney has been doing a good job in Westmeath and they have quite a few good prospects. The player who looks particularly impressive is Shane Fleming and I think he can make a big impact for his county. He’s played a good bit of minor football and scored a couple of points against Dublin in the 2018 Leinster Minor Football Championship. He’s one of many bright prospects which Westmeath have at the moment.
ORAN KENNY (LONGFORD)
There’s no doubt in my mind that the most impressive player than Longford have coming along is Oran Kenny. He’s a name that very few people will have heard of but he’s an upcoming player who I like a lot. He scored 1-2 against Tipperary in the league earlier in the year and that’s given them hope of promotion. Longford are always a tough team to play, especially at home, and Oran Kenny will be a big help to them in important games down the line.
RORY FINN (WICKLOW)
Wicklow haven’t had much to shout about for a while but they’re under Davy Byrne now and they have always had good players. For me, the main man for them is Rory Finn and he’s been impressive in the league this year. He scored two goals in their hammering of London and he’s a man of the future for Wicklow. A lot of people may not have heard of him but in the next few years, I expect that to change.
JORDAN MORRISSEY (CARLOW)
Carlow have a very impressive player in Jordan Morrissey, who was a big help to DCU winning the Sigerson Cup back in January. He was named on the Sigerson team of the season as well and he’s a young man who’s also impressed for Carlow. He’s a very promising player who’s vastly making a name for himself and he already looks like a player who can mix it in any company. Carlow have really unearthed a gem in him.