15 precocious fringe players who made big impressions at the weekend 1 year ago

15 precocious fringe players who made big impressions at the weekend

We all know about the Tony Kellys, the Jason Dohertys and the Kevin Morans.

These lads are a part of the furniture for their counties. They've already proven themselves and a Connacht FBD League game or a Munster League performance won't make or break them.

It's a completely different story for another group of players though.

The young lads making their county debuts, the fringe players trying hard to make an impression, the journeyman who's been knocking on the door for years.

Here are the 15 hurlers and footballers, who fit the above bill and who succeeded in making an impression at the weekend.

1 Billy Nolan (Waterford)

Buff Egan couldn't get over the saves the young Roanmore man was pulling off down in Dungarvan and the Clare men must have been fairly shell shocked too.

Kept Colin Guilfoyle and Michael O'Neill out when another keeper would have been stranded and kept the Déise in the game for long spells.

Having started at half forward for Waterford in this competition two years ago, he has shades of an Eoin Murphy about him with the mobility of an outfielder.

Stephen O'Keeffe will be hard to displace, but competition is always a good thing.

2 Eoghan Concannon (Derry)

Derry have been down in the dumps in recent times but with the county having made an All-Ireland minor final two years ago and an under-20 semi-final last year, there are a new batch of players rising and they offer hope.

None more so than Steelstown Brian Óg's youngster Eoghan Concannon. He was tidy on his debut against Tyrone and he was just as good against Fermanagh on Sunday.

3 Ronan Wallace (Westmeath)

The Multyfarnham man has been on the fringes for the last few years but he's having a really assured O'Byrne Cup campaign at the edge of the square and he again minded the house with snarl and aggression in Westmeath's victory over Kildare.

4 Padraig Delaney (Laois)

Was knocking about in 2018 but the Harps youngster is looking to make more of an impression this year and he's going the right way about it. Was a solid part of a sturdy Laois rearguard against Dublin.

5 Ryan Dougan (Derry)

Another Derry defender who impressed against Fermanagh, he's fit, fast and busy.

6 Sean Quinn (Derry)

Another Derry star rising up through the ranks, Quinn is quick, steely and aggressive and he also fared well against Fermanagh.

7 Conor Rehill (Cavan)

Man of the match on his debut. There will be tougher tests than Queen's Univeristy to come but it's a good start for the Crosserlough man.

8 Martin McElhinney (Donegal)

Four from play from midfield for the St Michael's man, hard to argue with that.

He's been on and off the Donegal team in recent years and will face more competition than ever this year, but he's going the right way about it.

9 Conan Grugan (Tyrone)

An All-Ireland minor winning captain with Tyrone in 2010, his senior career hasn't taken off as many would have expected but he was man of the match against Ulster University and that might be the start of it.

10 Fergal Boland (Mayo)

Covers nearly as much ground as a lively Diarmuid O'Connor and the end product is coming too. Kicked 1-3 from play and lashed home his penalty in the shootout, a sign of a confident player.

Formerly a bit part player, he may have a big part to play for James Horan's Mayo this year.

11 Ryan O'Rourke (Leitrim)

Completely turned the game upon his introduction from the bench. Finished his goal emphatically and nearly got in for two more. Runs straight, runs hard and his runs carved the Mayo defence open.

He's one of his county's main men at this stage, but with Leitrim rising, he'll be hoping to prove himself as one of the best players in Division.

12 Diarmuid Ryan (Clare)

The Cratloe youngster is tipped for a big year having had an impressive underage career with Clare and coming on the back of a big season for his club.

The younger brother of one of Clare's brightest ever talents Conor, who had his career cruelly cut short by an unfortunate physical issue, Diarmuid looks to have both the power and skill to emulate his Liam MacCarthy winning sibling.

Hit the Waterford defence for six from play on Sunday. That's the start of it.

13 Ben McCarron (Derry)

Another star of the Derry under-20s run to an All-Ireland semi, McCarron came off the bench to score 3-1 from open play against Fermanagh.

For a lad that's only 18 and still in school, it doesn't get much better than that.

14 John Hetherton (Dublin)

The big St Vincent's man has been on the periphery for a while now, but he's put a few good displays back to back for the Dublin hurlers now. Hit seven points, four from play and three frees against Laois, and he'll be hoping for a big National League campaign.

With size and strength to sell, he's also a deceptively wristy, skilful operator as his status as free-taker tells.

15 Davy O'Halloran (Clare)

The Ennis man departed the Clare hurling scene in controversial circumstances in 2015 when, after being spotted on a night out, he along with teammate Nicky O'Connell claimed to have been "humiliated" by Davy Fitzgerald and his management team.

He joined up with the Banner footballers soon after and though he didn't make a jersey his own, he was impressive on Sunday in the county's facile victory over Waterford, kicking two points from play.

Nippy and skilful, he may be one to watch this year.