Another week gone and we’re still no closer to seeing any Championship action. We now know that there will be no mass gatherings until September at the earliest. Does that now mean a winter championship?
I don’t think it would be the worst thing in the world and seeing the best counties go hammer and thong under the lights in November would be some sight. If that does happen, here’s my five to follow in Munster.
BRYAN O’MARA (TIPPERARY)
He was on the Tipperary U20 and U21 sides which won the All Ireland and from all of those players, I think he’s the best equipped to break into the Tipperary senior team. If Tipperary are going to retain their All Ireland, I think Liam Sheedy might have to make one or two changes in personnel.
To me, this is one of the men to break into that team. He plays at wing-back and you could find him playing alongside Padraic Maher and Brendan Maher. Also, there were times last year when Brendan Maher was man-marking the opposing team’s danger man so there could be an opportunity for somebody to come into the Tipperary half-back line. For me, Bryan could be that man and I really rate him.
ARON SHANAGHER (CLARE)
He was a very good minor hurler for Clare a few years ago and there was a lot of talk about him at the time. I know he’s yet to take off but he’s 23 years of age now and he’s coming into his prime. He’s a big lad and with the potential loss of John Conlon, you’d be looking for a lad to step up and I think Aron is that player.
I still remember when he came on against Galway in the All Ireland semi-final two years ago and the impact he made. He was unbelievable. I think if he gets a couple of good games under his belt, he could really explode onto the scene. We’ve yet to see the best of him and the sky could be his limit. He could be the man Brian Lohan is looking for in Clare’s full forward line this year.
CALUM LYONS (WATERFORD)
I just love watching this lad play hurling. He plays at wing-back and last year, he made his debut under Paraic Fanning. When the chips were down for Waterford last year, he was one of the success stories. Conor Prunty was another of those.
One sure thing you get with Calum though is that he gives 100% every time he takes to the field and he’s such an honest player. He’s an option at cornerback too as he’s very fast. He’s on an upward curve and not only will he be a big player for Waterford in the Munster Championship but he’s going to be a future star.
BARRY NASH (LIMERICK)
He was a really good minor and likewise at U21 level, where he was excellent. We’ve probably been waiting for him to kick on as he came up with the likes of Cian Lynch and Sean Finn and would have been talked up in the same manner as those lads as well.
He’s been close to getting into the team for the last couple of years but we saw in this year’s league, he was tried out at wing-back and corner-back and it worked. With the loss of Richie English, Barry could be a massive player for Limerick. In fact, I think this could be a very big year for Barry.
ROBERT DOWNEY (CORK)
For Cork, they haven’t filled the full-back position since Diarmuid O’Sullivan retired. To be honest, it’s probably been their Achilles’ heel over the last couple of years as well. I’ve watched this lad for Glen Rovers in the club championship and I remember in the county final, he done a great job in marking Seamus Harnedy.
He was also very good against Tipperary in the league this year and he’s won a Fitzgibbon Cup with UCC as well. He’s big, he’s strong and he’s got massive potential in filling that gap for Cork at number 3. He could be the difference in Cork being successful or not.