Saturday 24 August 2019

The young guns to watch out for in this year's hurling championship

Kilkenny youngster Adrian Mullen
Kilkenny youngster Adrian Mullen

John Morley

The young pretenders from Ballyhale Shamrocks can impress in this year's hurling championship.

That's the view of our panel on our hurling special Throw In Podcast, in association with Bord Gais Energy.

The big name comes from the Cats, and following Ballyhale Shamrocks' impressive All-Ireland success, Adrian Mullen is at the top of Irish Independent reporter Michael Verney's young stars to watch in 2019.

"Everyone will be looking to see what Adrian Mullen produces with Kilkenny, I would imagine he'd start, I think he struggled in a game against Cork, I think it was only ten days after the club final," said Verney.

"It'd be a quare old baptism of fire, and there would be an awful lot of expectation on him. But, he clearly has talent," he added.

Chief sports writer for the Irish Independent, Vincent Hogan, agreed Mullen was an exciting prospect but sympathised with his quick turnaround to the Kilkenny set up in the League.

"Adrian Mullen has been outstanding for Ballyhale, I think it has been very difficult for the Ballyhale lads, straight into hurling with the club again, and I think he's one of the players who struggled to keep the form going," said Hogan.

The nineteen-year-old scored five points in the club All-Ireland and has been likened to manager and eleven-time All-Star, Henry Shefflin.

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Looking at Tipperary, the Irish Independent writers have tipped Mark Kehoe to be a pillar for Liam Sheedy's team, following his U-21 success with the county.

Although Kehoe scored a mere two points in the showpiece, he was instrumental as the target man at the fulcrum of Tipp's attack, playing a role in all of their three goals.

"[He's] a big, rangy kind of fellow and a target man who has pace and can score," said Verney.

Kehoe enjoyed Fitzgibbon Cup success earlier this year with UCC, scoring 1-4 in a display of blistering attacking finesse.

Moving west, Hogan believes Brian Concannon will have a breakthrough year after being involved with Galway the last year.

"Brian Concannon, he's been on the Galway team for a while now. His club form is really good and we're talking about who's going to step up to the plate? Maybe Concannon could be the guy to step up to the plate for Galway."

Scorer of 2-2 in four appearances in last year's Leinster Championship, with a further 2-6 in this year's National Hurling League, Concannon has potent potential for Michael Donogue's side.

The last of The Throw-In lad's young hopefuls comes from the Joe McDonagh Cup. Winning a Fitzgibbon title with UCC already this year, Kerry's Shane Conway looks set to light up the second tier championship.

"Shane Conway got the Fitzgibbon Player of the Year, he's a diminutive little forward, but he's outstanding," enthused Verney.

The Kerry hurler scored six points for his college in the decider and crucially scored six points in their extra-time escape against DCU at the semi-final stage.

Winning county titles at minor (2), U21 (1) and senior (1), Conway's pace and finishing will be on display throughout Kerry's Joe McDonagh campaign.

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