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15th May 2017

The bright young stars backed to make a massive impact in this year’s Championship

They'll be hoping to make their mark this summer

Darragh Culhane

The provincial championships get into full swing this weekend with six football matches taking place across the country.

The league was a great way for teams to test out a few of their younger players and there are certainly a few that could make an impact amongst the teams that will be hoping to lift Sam Maguire come September.

On the GAA Hour, Colm Parkinson listed some fresh faces that could be set to make an impact on the championship this year.

Jack McCarron (Monaghan)

After an injury prone couple of years, McCarron lit up the League earlier in the year.

He netted 3-29 in the league including a tasty 1-09 against Dublin and is on everyone’s radar for an All-Star.

Ciaran Thompson (Donegal)

Donegal legend Brendan Devenney said that Thompson has the best left foot he has even seen (sorry Ciarán McDonald).

He’s already made himself a key part of the Donegal team after shining in their league campaign this year, even winning Footballer of the Week after racking up 0-5 in their victory over Cavan in March.

Jason McGee (Donegal)

Last year’s captain of the Donegal minors, Jason McGee is also a talented soccer player.

He’s represented the Republic of Ireland at youth level but has given full commitment to football as he is among the talented crop of young players creeping through to the Donegal first team.

Eoghan Ban Gallagher (Donegal)

Making his senior debut in 2016, Gallagher has been one to watch for Donegal’s Under-21s and was part of the side that reached the All-Ireland Minor Final in 2014.

Gallagher is the son of former Donegal midfielder John Ban Gallagher and is a talented wing-back and wing-forward.

Paul Brennan (Donegal)

Brennan requested a full-county transfer back in 2014 in the hopes of forcing his way into the Donegal senior team under Rory Gallagher.

Previously a key man for Leitrim, Brennan may now get his chance to establish himself in Donegal after making his first competitive appearance for the county in their loss to Kerry in February.

Con O’Callaghan (Dublin)

The star of the AIB All-Ireland Club Hurling Championship, O’Callaghan is equally as talented in football.

The Cuala man made his championship debut against Laois after coming off the bench to score a point.

Forcing his way into the starting lineup could prove a difficult task but O’Callaghan has long been touted as the next big thing in Dublin GAA and proved once again he isn’t just hype after netting 1-03 when Dublin won the U21 All-Ireland Championship at the end of April.

Colm Basquel (Dublin)

Basquel was a teammate of O’Callaghan in that U21 final and has long been on the radar of Dublin fans.

He scored 1-01 in the All-Ireland Club final in 2016 when Ballyboden St Enda’s steamrolled Castlebar Mitchels as they went on to win their maiden club title.

Much like O’Callaghan, he may struggle to break into the starting lineup but with Jim Gavin never afraid to shake things up he could be a name that the country could be familiar with before the year is out.

Ronan Shanahan (Kerry)

Shanahan certainly doesn’t lack commitment; he got a whole lot of boot in his face playing for Kerry earlier in the year.

The Austin Stack’s man made his debut against Mayo in the league and usually slots in corner back.

Jack Barry (Kerry)

This guy is surely a nailed on starter for Kerry this year.

Since Brian Fenton has come onto the scene for Dublin he has established himself as the best midfielder in the country – or at least close to it – and a lot people felt he was hard done by not to win Player of the Year last year.

Yet, Barry out-marked Fenton in the league when Dublin met Kerry in Tralee.

And then he did it again in the league final when Kerry snapped Dublin’s unbeaten streak.

Without a doubt, Barry is top of the list of young players to watch this year.

Kevin McCarthy (Kerry)

If he is anything like his brother Mike, Kerry has future All-Star in their squad.

Mike won three All-Stars during his Kerry career and his younger brother will be hoping to follow in his footsteps after getting plenty of time with the team during their winning league campaign.

Kevin started the league final against Dublin in corner forward and scored a point on Kerry’s road to victory.

Jack Savage (Kerry)

Playing in the opposite corner to McCarthy in that match was Jack Savage.

The Kerins O’Rahilly player has been a key player in Kerry’s recent underage success and scored a not so shabby 0-10 against Tipperary in the 2013 Munster minor final.

With Colm Cooper now retired, Savage could well take his place in the starting line up and will no doubt battle with James O’Donoghue for a place in the full forward line.

Tom O’Sullivan (Kerry)

With the same name of a former Kerry stalwart, O’Sullivan hails from Dingle.

O’Sullivan played a starring role in the 2014 All-Ireland Minor Final when the Kingdom overcame Donegal to win their first minor title in 20 years.

A talented wing-back, he concludes the young Kerry contingent that will be looking to prevent Dublin becoming three in a row winners come September.

Fergal Boland (Mayo)

Boland’s name reverberated around the county during 2016, initially as his club Aghamore won Mayo’s U21 Championship and then for constantly having his name on the scoresheet as Mayo went on to win the All-Ireland U21 Championship.

For his efforts, Boland has been drafted Stephen Rochford’s senior panel for 2017.

Danny Kirby (Mayo)

Kirby impressed many in the Mayo’s underwhelming league campaign this year.

Despite suffering a leg injury against Monaghan in the opening game of their league campaign he stood out in midfield and will hope to feature over the summer.

Shane Nally (Mayo)

Nally was a forgotten man of sorts; he was a key member of the Mayo team that reached the All-Ireland Minor Final in 2008 alongside Aidan O’Shea.

He didn’t make a mark in the Mayo senior side until Stephen Rochford called him up in 2016 and hasn’t looked back since.

Nally will be hoping to establish himself as a member of the Mayo squad by holding down a starting spot over the coming months.

You can listen to the list on the podcast from 40:30.

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