Thursday 18 January 2018

Five men to watch in this year's football championship

Conor Sweeney
Conor Sweeney
Conan Grugan
Diarmuid Murtagh
Jack McCarron
Conor Dorman

Conor Dorman (Cork): The rising Bishopstown star featured prominently for UCC and, though a defender, slotted the winner for them in the Sigerson final. He also captained Cork's U-21s and won a third Munster medal with them.

The rising Bishopstown star featured prominently for UCC and, though a defender, slotted the winner for them in the Sigerson final. He also captained Cork's U-21s and won a third Munster medal with them.

He's one of the new boys blooded by Brian Cuthbert during the league and, after their defence was decimated by retirements, he's expected to develop into one of their regulars with the ability to take over the Rebels’ number six spot.

Jack McCarron (Monaghan)

His dad (Ray) and sister (Ellen) have played for the county and his mother's brother is none other than the legendary Hugo Clerin, so there's no surprise that McCarron has emerged with Monaghan this year.

The football scholarship student in DCU has seen his progress hampered by injury but he finally broke into the Monaghan attack and featured there throughout the league. It's a place where jerseys are at a premium and with their injuries healed up he didn't start the league final but he still did well off the bench that day and could shine in that role this summer.

Conor Sweeney (Tipperary)

A Munster U-21 title in 2010 and an All-Ireland minor a year later indicated that Tipp football was on the up and Sweeney (23) was part of that revolution. He actually made his senior debut in 2010 and graduated from UCC last year with a Colleges ‘All Star' to his credit.

But it is only this year that the Ballyporeen forward has caught national attention as top scorer in all four divisions of the Allianz League.

His 6-40 was all the more remarkable considering he's not Tipp's first-choice freetaker and it included 1-8 (4f) in their Division 4 final victory which was only his second appearance in Croke Park.

Diarmuid Murtagh (Roscommon)

Back in the FBD final last January, Roscommon sprang the St Faithleach's teenager off the bench in Carrick.

They still didn't win but he made an immediate impact and since then has got even more attention, not least for scoring 1-10 (6fs) in their All-Ireland U-21 semi-final defeat of Cork, when his game-winning last free had even Pat Spillane in awe. Just out of minor ranks and still only 19, he, like Donie Smith, is one of the kids that the Rossies are building their future around.

Conan Grugan (Tyrone)

An All-Ireland-winning minor in 2010 who was out injured last year. The towering 6' 4” Omagh midfielder got the senior call-up this year, started the season like a meteorite but by the end of the league had dropped down the pecking order.

Irish Independent

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