Kilkenny – Eoin Murphy
MURPHY’S HIGH-SCORGING exploits for Waterford IT in this year’s Fitzgibbon Cup garnered some early-season headlines. But despite Murphy’s forward prowess in attack during the prestigious third-level competition, it was always felt that the Glenmore man would claim David Herity’s Kilkenny number 1 shirt this season.
Even last year, Murphy was pushing Herity desperately hard and when the door opened in 2013, the 2008 All-Ireland medallist grabbed his chance with both hands. Murphy is blessed with all of the necessary goalkeeping attributes. He’s good under a high ball, a fine shotstopper and well able to pick out teammates with short deliveries or accurate puckouts. The general consensus is that Murphy, 22, is here to stay for many years to come. And in a real role reversal, Herity is now the man on the outside looking in.
Tipperary – Jason Forde
FORDE SPRANG TO prominence as a former Tipperary minor captain before inspiring Nenagh CBS to All-Ireland Colleges glory in 2012. The Silvermines player crowned a spectacular year as his club stormed to county and Munster intermediate club glory. The ‘Mines have more than held their own in the senior grade this year and with Forde prominent, there’s a North SHC quarter-final against holders Portroe to look forward to. Forde, who made his U21 debut for Tipperary last year, made his senior bow against Limerick IT last January in the Waterford Crystal Cup.
His League debut followed against Cork in February and despite Tipp’s heavy defeat, Forde was one of the Premier County’s better players as he chipped in with two points. He claimed the man of the match award from TG4 for his display against Dublin in the Division 1 semi-final, with one of his four points cut over from a delicious sideline ball.
Waterford – Jake Dillon
WITH JOHN MULLANE now retired, the spotlight falls on a crop of promising young Waterford forwards looking to fill the void. And Mullane’s De La Salle clubmate Jake Dillon has stepped up to the plate with a string of impressive performances. A former Harty Cup and All-Ireland Colleges winner with De La Salle, Dillon made his Déise League debut against Clare in the opening round of this year’s competition. And he wasn’t fazed by the big occasion as a 1-5 haul included a matchwinning free in stoppage time. Dillon’s also been tearing it up at club level in the embryonic stages of this year’s Waterford campaign. Holders De La Salle blitzed An Rinn last weekend and Dillon helped himself to 3-6. Operating in the same attack as Kilkenny goalkeeper Eoin Murphy, Dillon also enjoyed a productive Fitzgibbon Cup campaign for Waterford IT, who lost out to Mary Immaculate College in the semi-finals.
Galway – Davy Glennon
JOE CANNING’S LATE equalising free in last September’s All-Ireland final swelled GAA coffers by almost €3m. But Croke Park top brass were also toasting Davy Glennon’s part in the late award, after the Galway sub was hauled down by Jackie Tyrrell under the Hogan Stand. In the replay, Glennon was introduced as a 64th minute replacement but Kilkenny had the tie sewn up by then. In 2013, Glennon wants to make an impact as a starting player. Galway may have endured a stop-start League campaign but Glennon was one of the team’s best performers and he began the season with a bang, netting against Kilkenny in Salthill. Glennon played at midfield in 2009 when Galway won the All-Ireland minor title and he also won an U21 All-Ireland medal in 2011, this time in the number 15 shirt.
Clare – Tony Kelly
TONY KELLY IN full flow is a sight to behold. At minor and U21 level with Clare, some of the best cameo moments of recent seasons have featured Kelly haring down the touchline before unleashing sensational solo points off his left hand side. The Ballyea clubman is a powerful runner and Clare senior boss Davy Fitzgerald didn’t have to think twice about handing Kelly a senior championship debut in 2012. That decision was justified as Kelly helped himself to 1-2 in the Cusack Park qualifier victory over Dublin – the goal coming from an unstoppable 20m free. As Clare continue to improve and emerge as a genuine force under Fitzgerald, 2012 All-Ireland U21 medallist Kelly will feature prominently. And he has the potential to emerge as one of the real stars of championship 2013.
Cork – William Egan
WILLIAM EGAN WON’T be 23 until next month but he’s grown up quickly as a Cork senior hurler. With key defenders like Seán Óg Ó hAilpín and John Gardiner deemed surplus to requirements, Egan and his young defensive colleagues are eager to stamp their own mark on a new-look Rebels line-up. Cork may have been relegated from Division 1A this year but they’ve been scoring goals for fun in recent challenge outings against Limerick and Tipperary. Encouragingly, the Leesiders have looked solid defensively and boss Jimmy Barry-Murphy will bank on Egan to anchor the half-back division in the Munster semi-final against Clare or Waterford. Egan was a member of the Cork team that won the All-Ireland intermediate hurling title in 2009 and he’s a two-time Fitzgibbon Cup winner with UCC in 2012 and 2013.
When Egan, a former Cork U21 captain, made his senior bow in 2011, he became the first Kilbrin clubman to don the famous red jersey in the heat of senior championship.