10 to watch in 2008
Kerry extracted welcome benefits from Padraig Reidy and Killian Young in 2007 as they shored up the gaps left by the departed Seamus Moynihan and Mike McCarthy.
Meath's Shane O'Rourke was a late arrival but made up ground fast; Raymond Mulgrew finally delivered on some of his undoubted promise in Tyrone; Mayo will always wonder how good and important Pierce Hanley could have been for them after his brief championship exposure prior to his switch to AFL and Michael Tierney was the chief scoring threat for Laois despite their indifferent season.
But who are the young players who might make the small difference that matters in 2008?
Who are the talented newcomers with the potential to make the breakthrough in the months ahead?
We select 10 players whose progress could be worth tracking over the coming months.
The third of the dynasty and, in some measured opinions, the one with the hardest edge. He may lack the footwork and elusiveness of either of his fellow siblings Alan or Bernard, but he has an aggression and ball-winning capacity that may be suited to Dublin's half-back line .
The Dublin U21s deployed him at centre-forward in '07 without much success but his performances for St Oliver Plunkett's over the last 12 months suggest he's better coming on to the ball.
Another who can call on a rich pedigree to bolster an already evident talent.
Walsh, the son of former Kerry midfield and full-back great Sean, was the midfield lynchpin for the county minor team in '06 and quickly graduated to last year's senior panel.
He will represent viable options for the All-Ireland champions as a midfielder or even full-forward where he debuted for Munster in the inter-pros last year.
With Laois manager Liam Kearns in rebuild mode and Tom Kelly unlikely to return, plumping John O'Loughlin the heart of the Laois defence looks an easy choice.
Sure he has a lot on his plate as he balances hurling and college commitments. If ever a burnout paper was targeted at someone, it's him.
But his contribution to both Laois underage teams in '07 was immense, as centre-back on the U21 team that lost to Cork in the All-Ireland and at midfield on the minor team that lost an All-Ireland semi-final replay against Derry. O'Loughlin is one of the main reasons why Kearns might be in a hurry to usher in a new Laois future.
Gareth Bradshaw looks like he has the right profile to add something to Galway in '08.
A driving force behind Moycullen's push to an All-Ireland intermediate semi-final next month, Bradshaw's links with the new Galway manager Liam Sammon go back to his days at St Mary's College when they won the 2005 Connacht colleges title.
He's rangy and likes to come on to the ball from deep which tailors him for a potential place at midfield or half-back where he is part of NUIG's Sigerson Cup push.
Cadogan could have big choices to make in the season ahead as he balances a potentially great football career with an equally prospective life as a Cork hurler.
He featured as a senior football panellist in '07, having won an All-Ireland U21 medal but is also making shapes in hurling. What will his call be?
If it's football he'll offer great versatility in a variety of positions. Wherever his hat is laid though he looks like he'll make it -- provided Cork get up and running of course!
Pierce Hanley's departure leaves an obvious gap that will be difficult to fill as John O'Mahony attempts to shuffle his deck.
But with the 'old guard' likely to move on in the season ahead, opportunities for players like Castlebar's Tom Cunniffe are sure to arise. The former All-Ireland U21 centre-back made his championship debut in the ill-fated defeat to Derry last year. He has pace and strength in equal abundance and could now fill any of the defensive positions
Conway lacks physique, but in an evolving Kildare team that lacks forwards, his return from a serious injury could be timely.
He was one of the few shining lights during Kieran McGeeney's debut game against Longford in the O'Byrne Cup last weekend.
His range of passes off his left was superb, even if the same foot let him down when it came to shooting. He has the ability to make plays from deep positions and if Kildare are to persist with a more direct style, he could be the man to knit it together.
Again pedigree is with him as a younger brother of Sean. If he turns out half as good, then he'll have contributed handsomely to Tyrone.
But locals point to the more robust style of his father Ted as virtue that could spring him in '08.
Cavanagh featured fleetingly last year, most memorably against Dublin in the league match under the lights of Croke Park, but looks set for much greater exposure now.
He has been showing up well with UUJ in recent matches and could offer a presence either at midfield or as a half-forward.
Sean Leo McGoldrick
The 19-year-old has already announced his intentions this year with a two-goal spree against Armagh in last Sunday's televised McKenna Cup fixture.
An early season flash-in-the- pan? Not according to keen observers in Derry who suggest that McGoldrick, younger brother of Barry, has the pace, vision and bravery to take some of the heat off Paddy Bradley and Enda Muldoon in the season ahead.
Meath are more in the market for defenders than attackers but Nestor, younger brother of former All-Ireland medal winner Nigel, could provide options at either end.
A key figure in the county's Leinster minor championship win in '06 as a free-scoring corner-forward, he has since reverted to half-back for his club where he inspired an U21 championship this year.
Full graduation in '08 could be a long shot for Nestor who hasn't made the DCU senior squad for this O'Byrne Cup campaign, but as the ground hardens and the season progresses, he could make a significant move into Royal plans.