Ten young players set to have breakout summers in the football championship

Cian Johnson (left), Lee Brennan (centre) and Eoin O'Donoghue (right).

Donnchadh Boyle

We are less than a week away from the start of the 2018 football championship, with Connacht the first province to get things underway this Sunday.

London and New York will look to upset Sligo and Leitrim respectively, while the following week some of the heavy hitters make their championship bow, with Donegal vs Cavan in Ulster and Mayo vs Galway in Connacht set to whet the appetite further.

Ahead of the start of this year's championship, we scoured through every inter-county squad to select ten young players who could enjoy big summers.

Con O'Callaghan was the breakout star of 2017 - who could follow the Dublin young gun this summer?

Brian Howard (Dublin)

Those close to the Dublin set-up reckoned the Raheny man was ready to feature in the championship last year but he has been held in reserve until this year’s league where he’s lived up to the billing. Big and mobile and assured in possession Howard can expect to see plenty of championship action as Dublin look for a fourth successive All-Ireland title.

Cian Johnson (Offaly)

The Ferbane man has been mixing sitting his Leaving Cert along with inter-county football this year but he has managed it with aplomb. An accurate forward, manager Stephen Wallace has vowed to protect the talented teenager as much as possible but his arrival on the scene could hardly have come at a better time forthe county after Niall McNamee announced his retirement.

Sean O'Shea (Kerry)

Much of the talk around Kerry’s new guard has focused - with good reason - around sensation David Clifford but O’Shea has arguably made a bigger impression and already looks at home in the senior grade. That Fitzmaurice handed him the free-taking duties on his debut says much about how highly he is regarded.

Sean Andy Ó Ceallaigh (Galway)

Caught the eye doing a good marshalling job on Con O’Callaghan in last year’s All-Ireland U21 final. He opted to spend the summer in the US after that but is a serious addition to Kevin Walsh’s side. Physical and fast, Ó Ceallaigh was in good form in Galway’s run to the league final.

Eoin O'Donoghue (Mayo)

Hit the ground running in the league this year when kicking a point in the win over Monaghan in Round One and the Belmullet man hasn’t looked back since. Strong in the tackle and comfortable on the ball, O’Donoghue wandered forward to kick a crucial point as Mayo secured their division one status in typically dramatic fashion on the final day.

Lee Brennan (Tyrone)

Matty Donnelly once said that his Trillick club mate was “destined to do big things”. Hugely talented, Brennan was used sparingly by Mickey Harte in league and championship in 2017 but was a regular starter in this year’s league and hit 0-6 against All-Ireland champions Dublin.

Steven O'Brien (Tipperary)

Hardly a newcomer to the inter-county scene but his return to football after a stint with the Tipp hurlers is a massive boost to the county. A powerful and mobile midfielder, O’Brien looks better suited to the big ball game.

Ciarán Brady (Cavan)

Brady is a fixture in the number six jersey but apart from anchoring the defence, he showed an eye for a score during Cavan’s Division Two campaign and finished up as the county’s leading scorer from play. If Cavan make an impression in the championship, Brady will likely be to the fore.

Andrew Murnin (Armagh)

Murnin made his Armagh debut back in 2015 but has been hampered by injuries for much ofthe interim. However, the imposing full forward looks to have put that behind him and he hit 1-3 from play in the Division Three final win over Fermanagh.

Eoghan Bán Gallagher (Donegal)

Gallagher was still a teenager when he made his county debut back in 2016 but really came into his own in the spring. A versatile defender, the son of former Donegal midfielder John Bán Gallagher is comfortable on the ball and has an eye for a score.