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Best young hope in hurling

With the intercounty hurling season returning, Shane Stapleton and Michael Verney discussed four young hurlers to look out for in 2020

With the inter-county hurling season returning, Shane Stapleton and Michael Verney discussed which young hurlers could have a big impact on the 2020 championship — brought to you by

It is difficult for young players to make a breakthrough at inter-county level in a normal year but the short pre-season and knockout format could make things even tougher for young players to make the step up this year.

However, Shane Stapleton and Michael Verney have chosen four players who can make an impact for their county in this year’s championship.

Here are four up and coming players to keep an eye out for in the coming months:

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1. Tommy Walsh – Kilkenny
A club mate and relation to the great Tommy Walsh, young Tommy Walsh could play a huge part in Kilkenny’s quest for their first bit of silverware since 2016.

“He’s played championship the last couple of years. He scored a great point from cornerback against Dublin in the 2019 Leinster championship and he was really good in the club All-Ireland Intermediate final for Tullaroan against Declan Dalton,” Stapleton noted.

“It’s not his first season but assuming he starts and that’s not guaranteed, but I think the way he has played in the last couple of years and if he’s fit and flying, Kilkenny will have a decent season,” Stapleton added.

2. Ronan Hayes – Dublin
Described by Stapleton as a “a guy with a good hand and good hurling who could really develop this year.”

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Hayes featured in the championship for Dublin last year but Stapleton believes that Dublin will rely on Hayes more in 2020:

“Dublin don’t have enough of these marquee forwards. Ronan Hayes is the sort of lad, he’s six-foot-two, he’s got a bit of pace, he’s got hurling, he has a good hand and I think he could develop into a really top hurler in the next few years.”

3. Eoin Cody – Kilkenny
A star for Ballyhale in this year’s Kilkenny championship, Cody is someone that Michael Verney thinks will play a big role for Kilkenny this year:

“Eoin Cody is definitely one that stands out for me. I think he scored 3-5 in a recent challenge game against Clare and seems to be really putting his hand up.

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“The fact he is going to be in a full-forward line with his Ballyhale teammates, TJ and Colin Fennelly, players that he’s worked unbelievably well with at club level, I think there’s a fair chance he will make an impact there.

“He’s the sort of player that can still contribute handsomely enough even on days when he’s quiet.

“He just seems to pop around positions to get goals. He’s coming in on brilliant form and will be full of confidence after that game with Clare.”

4. Alan Connolly – Cork
The Blackrock man scored 13 points in the county final victory over Glen Rovers earlier this month and Stapleton believes he could add to Cork’s threats this year:

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“The only thing about him is, he’s so slight it might be a bit soon for him and it might be a case where there is longer term planning with him but my god he was just excellent against Glen Rovers.

“He’ll get the ball, he’ll turn and he’ll go at you. He’s got skill, he’s got speed, he can take frees. He’s ticking all the boxes.”

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