Monday 18 December 2017

Five men to watch in this year's hurling championship

Colm Cronin
Colm Cronin
Alan Cadogan
Padraog Walsh
Conor McDonald
Stephen Bennett

Stephen Bennett (Waterford)

They have known about Bennett for some time in Waterford and followers of the minor grade will have been aware of his heroics over the last few years which culminated in All-Ireland success last September.

Bennett was also central to the Ballysaggart cause as they went all the way to the All-Ireland club JHC final this year but, worryingly, he has struggled this year with hip problems that have dogged him for some time now.

If Derek McGrath can get him fit, he has all the attributes to make his presence felt despite his young age.

Colm Cronin (Dublin)

The Cuala clubman has seen plenty of action in the league campaign and announced his arrival on the big stage with a crucial goal against Clare.

Cronin, who played in All-Ireland minor hurling finals in 2011 and 2012, can operate at midfield or at half-forward and he could be the one to break into the what is probably the most settled starting side of all the top hurling counties.

Conor McDonald (Wexford)

A bolter who had the rare honour of representing his county at minor, U-21 and senior level in championship hurling last year.

The Naomh Eanna man hit 3-4 of 3-7 as the county minors beat Kilkenny for the first time since 1985 and also helped the Slaneysiders to a first Leinster U-21 title since 2002 when landing two points in the final.

Shortly afterwards, senior boss Liam Dunne handed him his debut off the bench as they went down to future All-Ireland champions Clare in the back door.

Alan Cadogan (Cork)

A man in demand, Cadogan has been named as part of Brian Cuthbert's extended football panel but it was with Jimmy Barry-Murphy's side where he has made the most impact.

Handed his first start against Laois in the league, the Douglas man and brother of dual star Eoin has largely been allowed to concentrate on his U-21 football commitments in the spring. However, he could be in the starting team when the Rebels face Waterford in Thurles on May 25.

Padraig Walsh (Kilkenny)

If anything could steel you for trying to break into the Kilkenny team, maybe growing up as Tommy Walsh's younger brother could just be that.

After impressing in the Walsh Cup final against Dublin, the 22-year-old made his league debut against Clare and has featured regularly, seeing more action than his sibling. He can operate in a number of positions but was man of the match from half-back in the league semi-final with Galway.

Irish Independent Supplement

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