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15 rising football stars to watch out for in 2019



Damien Gore, Darragh Canavan and Aaron Byrne

Damien Gore, Darragh Canavan and Aaron Byrne

Darragh Canavan. Photo: Sportsfile

Darragh Canavan. Photo: Sportsfile



Damien Gore, Darragh Canavan and Aaron Byrne

A look at 15 rising stars to watch for 2019

Aaron Byrne (Dublin)

Dublin have a queue of highly talented, pacy forwards in the mix but one who can make ground is the 2017 U-21 footballer of the year, Aaron Byrne. The Na Fianna man looks every inch a 'Croke Park' player where his quick movement could allow him to thrive with the right application. His recent O'Byrne Cup exposure illustrated that talent.

Graham O'Sullivan (Kerry)

So many potential 'bolters' in Kerry this year but, from the same small club, Dromid Pearses, as Declan O'Sullivan and former Kerry manager Jack O'Connor, O'Sullivan is in the right market for inclusion as Peter Keane looks to build a new defence. An All-Ireland minor winner in 2015 (sub) and 2016, he has developed into a tigerish, ball-playing defender.

Ryan O'Donoghue (Mayo)

Ankle surgery has kept O'Donoghue out of Mayo's early-season activity but there's something about a young man who is asked to captain his club, Belmullet, to a county intermediate title, having already led Mayo to a provincial U-20 title. A talented soccer player and boxer, he has an explosive presence around half-forward and is among a core of exciting young players in the county now pushing through.

Odhran McFadden Ferry (Donegal)

Donegal have no shortage of attacking talent but are in the market for a disciplined, attentive defender. He has carried out this role diligently for Gaoth Dobhair on their march to an Ulster club title, picking up Kieran Hughes in the final against Scotstown and enjoying some success. Relishes that type of game.

Eoghan Concannon (Derry)

Ben McCarron stands out after his hat-trick against Fermanagh and U-20 form last summer but Derry may have the comfort of using him sparingly in the league because of his age. Concannon was a county minor for two years under current manager Damien McErlain and is a tight-marking defender who had a productive McKenna Cup campaign, playing all four games.

Ross McQuillan (Armagh)

McQuillan is a potential target for AFL clubs, having impressed at last year's Dublin combine. Son of former Armagh footballer Martin, he recorded the best 20-metre sprint at the combine and can put that explosiveness to good use, allied to his vision and accuracy, in Armagh's Division 2 campaign.

Stephen O'Hanlon (Monaghan)

O'Hanlon has resisted previous invitations into the Monaghan squad as he concentrated on a promising basketball career but has committed this year and is a real attacking prospect. He scored 2-11, 1-7 from play, for Carrickmacross in last year's U-21 club final but also brings pace and creativity to his game. Made his debut in the recent McKenna Cup and sure to feature at some stage in Monaghan's Division 1 campaign.

Darragh Canavan (Tyrone)

A lot to expect from an 18-year-old, 19 this year, with his surname in Tyrone but good temperament should bring him a long way. Like David Clifford in Kerry, a further period of incubation at U-20 level looks unlikely and with a recent call-up to the senior squad a decent airing in the league looks likely. Star of Tyrone's 2017 All-Ireland U-17 win, he possesses the skills and finishing power in an area where his county requires it more.

Aaron Masterson (Kildare)

Jimmy Hyland may be an obvious one but Masterson's leadership qualities have already been recognised in Kildare where he was U-20 captain as they swept to an All-Ireland title last August. Tall and rangy with some physical development required yet he should still get his chance in the engine room in their forthcoming league campaign.

Conor Rehill (Cavan)

Rehill had a decent McKenna Cup campaign for Cavan on the back on Crosselough's run to the county final last year. He's comfortable on the ball and versatile about where he can play. This weekend, he's named at half-back.

John Daly (Galway)

Younger brother of Michael and son of Val, Daly has been a pivotal defensive figure on a Mountbellew-Moulough team that has contested three of the last four Galway football finals, losing to Corofin each time. Injury has held him back with Galway but half-back is a line that is open to improvement for Kevin Walsh and Daly has the necessary skill-set.

Damien Gore (Cork)

From the Kilmacabea club, which won last year's Cork junior title, Gore is named to make his league debut on Sunday and can bring pace and elusiveness to their inside line.

Seán O'Donoghue (Clare)

US-born O'Donoghue has a basketball background and Clare will be hoping to put his athleticism and fielding ability to good use, possibly at midfield, throughout the upcoming league campaign.

Luke Towey (Sligo)

Towey has already attracted the interest of AFL scouts and on the evidence of his recent Connacht League debut when he scored three points against Roscommon, that's no surprise. Has played half-back and half-forward in his two years as a Sligo minor and will offer plenty of options.

Ronan Wallace (Westmeath)

A revelation during his county's recent O'Byrne Cup success, Wallace showed himself to be a strong full-back with sound anticipation. Kevin Maguire's imminent return may prompt a move elsewhere in defence for the Multyfarnham man but with Ronan O'Toole, he's clearly an addition to their ranks.

Irish Independent