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Keep an eye out for them – the Rising Stars of Hurling

Young Blood.

The All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship has come and gone for another year. After all the highs and lows that we witnessed this summer, it has us in a bit of a reflective mood.

Every year, there is a bright young spark that rips up the hurling field. We take a look at some the young players who have shone throughout the Championship.

19 August 2018; Kyle Hayes of Limerick following their victory in the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Final match between Galway and Limerick at Croke Park in Dublin.

Kyle Hayes – Limerick

The average age of John Kiely‘s All-Ireland winning team is 23, and Kyle Hayes is one of the youngest on the panel. At the tender age of 20, the Kildimo/Pallaskenry club man has already achieved so much.

As well as pocketing an All-Ireland medal, he has played in minor, U21 and senior All-Ireland finals since 2016. For such a young age, he has already collected valuable experience. To top off a fantastic year, he received an All-Star nomination for Young Hurler of the Year. The best is certainly yet to come from this young hurler.

26 May 2018; Rory O’Connor of Wexford during the Leinster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Round 3 match between Offaly and Wexford at Bord na Mona O’Connor Park in Tullamore, Offaly.

Rory O’Connor – Wexford

O’Connor made his debut for Wexford last year, and already his future looks extremely bright. He is only 20 and Davy Fitzgerald awarded him the responsibility of being the Yellow-Bellies free-taker. He hit a massive 10 points in their Quarter Final loss to Clare.

15 July 2018; Richie Leahy of Kilkenny during the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Quarter-Final match between Kilkenny and Limerick at Semple Stadium, Thurles, Co Tipperary.

Richie Leahy – Kilkenny

Leahy is part of the new crop that is being bled into the Kilkenny panel by Brian Cody. He was on and off the bench all summer for the Cats and made his mark on the pitch.

After being brought on during Kilkenny’s Quarter Final loss to Limerick, he tallied up 0-4 for himself.

29 July 2018; Darragh Fitzgibbon of Cork during the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship semi-final match between Cork and Limerick at Croke Park in Dublin.

Darragh Fitzgibbon – Cork

Fitzgibbon received the nod for a Young Hurler of the Year All-Star after a stellar performance with Cork this year. He whacked two points from the midfield mark during the Munster Final as the Rebels retained their provincial crown.

As well as lining out for the senior team this year, he was part of the U-21 panel that made it to the All-Ireland Final, which the Rebels, unfortunately, lost out to Tipperary.

3 June 2018; Billy McCarthy of Tipperary during the Munster GAA Senior Hurling Championship Round 3 match between Waterford and Tipperary at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick.

Billy McCarthy – Tipperary

While Tipperary had a somewhat unsuccessful campaign this summer, their young player Billy McCarthy shone. After only making his debut this May against Limerick, he earned himself a starting spot for all of the round-robin games and scored a goal for the Premier County against Clare.

We will seem he sidelined over the winter and possibly into the league, as he, unfortunately, suffered a serious knee injury whilst playing for his club in July. We are wishing him a speedy recovery.

5 August 2018; Conor Whelan of Galway during the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship semi-final replay match between Galway and Clare at Semple Stadium in Thurles, Co Tipperary.

Conor Whelan – Galway

It is hard to believe that Galway’s full forward Conor Whelan is only 21. He has been around for quite some time now after the Galway senior panel at just 18.

Whelan is now known as one of the most skillful forwards in the country. He played a fantastic match in the semi-final game against Clare and hit a late goal against Limerick in the All-Ireland Final.

10 June 2018; Ian Galvin of Clare celebrates after scoring his side’s first goal during the Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Round 4 match between Tipperary and Clare at Semple Stadium in Thurles, Tipperary.

Ian Galvin  – Clare

Galvin started off his 2018 well after bagging a Fitzgibbon Cup title with UL and he went on to make a great impact with the Clare senior team.

The most notable impact was his crucial goal for the Banner this summer against Tipperary, which was one of the standout #StyleOfPlay moments of the Championship.

After being brought on from the bench in both semi-final against Galway, he made his mark, hitting two points in both games. You can be guaranteed that we will see plenty more from Galvin next summer.

Who do you think stood out the most this summer?

Littlewoods Ireland are proud sponsors of the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship. Keep yourself up to date with all the#StyleOfPlay action right here! 

Ellen McConville

Ellen is the Sports Content Writer for Littlewoods Ireland and your go to gal for all things GAA. She is a fluent Irish speaker and a big fan of fashion, music and some cheese and wine as well.

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