Eyes peeled! 13 young Gaelic footballers to watch in 2017

September 18, 2021 0 By HearthstoneYarns

Colm Basquel, Jason Foley and Conor Loftus are three of the players we’ll be keeping an eye on.

Source: INPHO

AS FANS EAGERLY await the start of the 2017 pre-season competitions, it’s a time to keep an eye out for some new talent in many county squads.

Before Christmas, inter-county managers up and down the country announced winter training panels, with former underage stars included and carrying the hope of glory with them into the new year.

Here, we take a look at 13 players, some who have already made an impression in the senior inter-county ranks, who will be targeting big seasons in 2017.

As always, we’re looking for your feedback on who are the rising young stars to keep an eye out for this year.

 1. Colm Basquel (Dublin)

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Con O’Callaghan is tipped as a player to watch for Dublin’s footballers in the coming years, having expressed his preference for the big ball code.

But with O’Callaghan on club hurling duty with Cuala next month, and possibly in March also, we’ve chosen Colm Basquel as a player to watch from the Dublin set-up.

Source: Conán Doherty/YouTube

2016 was a super year for Basquel, who crowned Ballyboden’s march to AIB All-Ireland senior club glory with an All-Ireland final goal.

He also won a Leinster U21 medal with Dublin and made the bench for the senior final replay victory over Mayo.

2. Mark Bradley (Tyrone)

Source: Lorraine O’Sullivan/INPHO

Mark Bradley’s star is very much on the rise and when his club Killyclogher stormed to Tyrone senior football glory, he scored eight points in the replay victory over Coalisland Fianna.

That haul brought Bradley’s championship tally to 0-30, and saw him finish the campaign as the competition’s top scorer.

A 2012 All-Ireland minor medallist, Bradly made his League and championship debuts at senior level in 2015.

Still a young player, Bradley has already amassed a formidable haul of honours that includes All-Ireland medals at minor and U21 levels, as well as that county SFC win with his club.

3. Conor Loftus (Mayo)

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Mayo’s agonising collapse in the All-Ireland final replay against Dublin once again highlighted the need to unearth at least one more reliable scoring forward.

Conor Loftus could be the man to step in and make an impact as he was Mayo’s matchwinner at U21 level against the Dubs in 2016.

Loftus nailed a late point to send Mayo through to the All-Ireland decider, before he scored 2-2 in the final victory against Cork.

Loftus also made an early impression in the senior championship, replacing black-carded Cillian O’Connor against London in Ruislip, and scoring 1-2 in a comfortable victory.

4. Liam Casey (Tipperary)

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Steven O’Brien’s decision to remain with the hurlers and Peter Acheson’s move to Dubai has left Tipperary manager Liam Kearns with a midfield conundrum.

Who partners George Hannigan in the Premier County engine room is a question that will be answered in the coming weeks and months but Liam Casey is a live contender.

A 2015 Munster U21 medallist, Cahir man Casey won a Sigerson Cup with UCD last year.

His decision to leave for America was a big blow for Kearns but Casey is back and very much part of the manager’s plans for the 2017 season.

5. Sean Powter (Cork)

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Sean Powter is a busy forward with keen eye for goal, but also a creator of scores.

The Douglas clubman made his U21 debut in the 2016 EirGrid Munster final victory over Kerry before going off injured.

The Douglas player was back for the All-Ireland semi-final victory against Monaghan, creating Peter Kelleher’s goal, hitting the post and chipping in with three points.

A prodigious talent, Powter was a key player for St Francis College, Rochestown, as they contested Harty Cup and Corn Uí Mhuirí finals in 2015, before representing the county in both codes at minor level.

Powter made his senior championship debut last year and should see plenty of game time in 2017.

6. Jason Foley (Kerry)

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

With a rich conveyor belt churning out promising young talent, Jason Foley is certainly one to watch.

Full-back for the Kerry U21s last year, Foley occupied the same position on the All-Ireland minor winning team of 2015.

Foley is a member of Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s senior squad and is a two-time All-Ireland minor medallist, also winning the title in 2014.

Fitzmaurice hasn’t been shy about giving youth its fling and we could also see the likes of Killian Spillane, Gavin White and goalkeeper Shane Murphy at some stage in the season, although White and Murphy are currently club-tied with Dr. Crokes.

7. Luke Flynn (Kildare)

Source: Lorraine O’Sullivan/INPHO

Luke Flynn, an U21 player with Kildare last year, is one of several call-ups to senior manager Cian O’Neill’s panel for the 2017 season.

The Johnstownbridge player is a highly-rated midfielder who featured in defence during the 2016 O’Byrne Cup campaign.

Flynn is one to watch as O’Neill decided to freshen up his backroom staff and panel ahead of the new year.

Luke is younger brother of fellow Kildare player Daniel, who has previous AFL experience.

8. Paul Kingston (Laois)

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

A new broom looks set to sweep clean in Laois following the appointment of former Tipperary boss Peter Creedon as manager of the county’s senior footballers.

In keeping with a previous move in Tipp, Creedon is already combining both the senior and U21 squads collectively for training.

A number of young players will be evaluated but one player who’s already made his senior championship debut is Paul Kingston, younger brother of Donie.

Paul will shortly celebrate his 23rd birthday and having spent last summer in Boston, he looks set for a big year, if a reported knee injury can be attended to.

9. Ultan Harney (Roscommon)

Source: Tommy Grealy/INPHO

A 2015 county senior football championship winner with Clann na nGael, Ultan Harney has also tasted Connacht U21 glory with Roscommon.

Injury hampered Harney during the early months of the 2016 season but he returned to feature for Kevin McStay’s seniors.

A key member of Roscommon’s 2013 minor crop, Harney went on to become a key player for the U21s and won two provincial medals in that grade.

Harney was out injured when Roscommon’s quest for three-in-a-row was stopped last year.

10. Darren Nagle (Clare)

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Darren Nagle made his senior championship debut for Clare against Sligo in last year’s All-Ireland qualifier.

He joined the panel in 2015, however, and is renowned as a very tidy corner back, quick and hard as nails.

From the Liscannor club, injuries hampered Nagle’s progress in 2016 but he could be set for an extended run in the team if he can put those problems behind him.

It’s a big year for Nagle and Clare as they prepare for life in Division 2 of the Allianz League.

11. Cillian O’Sullivan (Meath)

Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Cillian O’Sullivan was a member of the Meath team that lost against Dublin in the 2012 All-Ireland minor football final.

But O’Sullivan lost nearly two years of a promising career through injury, before returning to fitness and football in early 2016.

The Moynalvey player made a long-awaited senior championship debut against Louth last summer, having recovered from a back problem.

Looked impressive against Dublin in last year’s Leinster championship clash before the Sky Blues gained a firm stranglehold on proceedings.

12. James Mealiff (Monaghan)

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Operating at centre back, James Mealiff was a key member of Monaghan’s 2016 outfit that won a first EirGrid Ulster U21 football crown in 17 years.

From Clones, Mealiff was a member of the Monaghan senior squad for last year’s championship but he’s yet to make his full competitive debut.

That looks set to come in pre-season competition, as Monaghan look ahead to their Division 1 opener against Mayo next month.

Mealiff won an All-Ireland Freshers League Division 1 title with DCU in December 2015.

13. Michael Daly (Galway)

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Michael Daly is the son of former Galway star and ex-Roscommon senior team manager Val.

When Galway were knocked out of the Connacht U21 championship last year, Michael was deemed unfortunate to have been sent off early on a second yellow card.

But that setback shouldn’t deter the progress of Daly, who’s already captained his club Mountbellew/Moylough to county minor glory while also appearing in a senior decider.

A midfielder in the underage county ranks, Daly has impressed in attack for his club and he could be given a senior county debut by manager Kevin Walsh this year.

Who are you looking forward to seeing given a chance in county colours this year? Leave your feedback in the comments section below…

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