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30th Jan 2024

15 hurlers to watch ahead of the 2024 National Hurling League

Niall McIntyre

Here we go again.

After a long absence, the inter-county hurling season proper re-commences this weekend with the clash of Dublin and Tipperary in the opening round of the Allianz National Hurling League.

A full round of fixtures will follow over the weekend and having taken in all the pre-season competitions, the club championship and the Fitzgibbon Cup to date, here are our hurlers to watch for 2024.

Declan McLoughlin (Galway)

The young Portumna forward showcased his abilities when scoring a brilliant, levelling score in the dying stages of Galway’s Leinster championship clash with Kilkenny last year.

Has had a storming start to 2024, having scored 4-3 from play in two Walsh Cup games to date and 1-3 in two Fitzgibbon Cup games for Mary I.

Conor Foley (Wexford)

The young Horeswood defender broke onto the Wexford team last year, and started their Leinster championship clash against Galway.

Has been very impressive at full back in their victorious Walsh Cup campaign this pre-season, and is expected to be a starter on Keith Rossiter’s team come championship.

May vacate the full back position in time as stalwart Liam Ryan returns to the team, but that should be no problem as he can also play in the half back line.

Adam English (Limerick)

The Doon forward’s ability is undoubted – the challenge for him is the star-studded forward line he’s trying to break into.

He has showed some early season form, racking up 0-5 from play for UL in a recent Fitzgibbon Cup game against TUS Midwest, and 0-2 from play for Limerick in their Munster hurling league win over Clare.

David Fogarty (Kilkenny)

Was one of the best performers in the All-Ireland club championship this year, the young defender having inspired O’Loughlin Gaels on their run to the All-Ireland final. Scored a great winning point in their semi-final win over Cushendall as well as two in the final against St Thomas.’

The Maynooth University student will push hard for a place on the Kilkenny team this year.

Jordan Molloy (Kilkenny)

Like his club-mate Fogarty, Molloy was exceptional for O’Loughlin Gaels in attack and defence. A former Kilkenny minor and U20, Molloy will be a part of the county’s senior panel this year.

Cathal King (Offaly)

A Leinster under-20 winner with Offaly this year, the Carrig and Riverstown player also impressed in his club’s run to the Leinster junior hurling final, where they were beaten by Tullogher Rosbercon.

Has been playing for SETU Waterford in the Fitzgibbon Cup this year, with a quarter final to come in that competition.

Patrick Fitzgerald (Waterford)

Fitzgerald’s abilities are no secret to those who have been following the club scene over the last two years, with the young Ballygunner player having shot the lights out in county, provincial and All-Ireland club championships.

He played a bit-part role in last year’s Munster championship for Waterford, coming off the bench against Cork, Limerick and Clare before starting against Tipperary, in a game he hit 0-3 from play.

Sean Currie (Dublin)

Has lit up the Dublin and Leinster club scene for Na Fianna, racking up 2-5 in this year’s Dublin final and 1-1 in the Leinster final against O’Loughlin Gaels. Featured in last year’s Leinster championship, without making a huge impact, but comes into this season in great form.

Brian Hayes (Cork)

The St Finbarr’s club-man showed his ability, scoring a late-levelling goal against Tipperary in the Munster championship last year. A star of St Finbarr’s county championship winning side in 2022, the physical forward is expected to break onto the Cork team this year.

Darragh Stakelum (Tipperary)

The star of Thurles Sarsfields’ run to the Tipperary club final in 2023, last year’s Tipperary under-20 captain has the scoring prowess to make a breakthrough into the seniors this year.

Joseph McLoughlin (Antrim)

Lit up the Antrim and All-Ireland club championship for Ruairí Óg, racking up 2-5 in the Ulster final against Portaferry and 1-1 in the All-Ireland semi-final against O’Loughlin Gaels, having been marked by no lesser an opponent than Mikey Butler.

Niall Murphy (Wexford)

A member of the Ferns St Aidans team which won the Wexford championship in 2022, Murphy impressed for Wexford in the Walsh Cup this year, where he lined out at corner back. The DCU Fitzgibbon Cup captain this year, with a bit of luck on his side Murphy may make the breakthrough onto the Wexford team this summer.

Darragh McCarthy (Tipperary)

McCarthy shot to stardom as one of the players of the year in this year’s Tipperary club hurling championship.

The Toomevara club-man is still in school, and is currently preparing for a Harty Cup final with Nenagh CBS, for whom he is the captain. Scored 0-13, including 0-4 from play in their recent semi-final win over Charleville CBS.

Could be a wildcard for Tipperary this year.

Cathal O’Neill (Limerick)

Some find it hard to believe that the Crecora/Manister player hasn’t nailed down a place on the Limerick forward line but this could be his year.

Showed some early season form in the Munster hurling League, where he hit 1-1, including a stunning goal against Clare. Started against Tipperary last year, in a game he hit 0-5 from play but was demoted to the bench for the All-Ireland semi-final and final, scoring 0-2 from play in the decider against Kilkenny.

Eoin Downey (Cork)

The young Glen Rovers defender has had a brilliant underage career with Cork, having won two All-Ireland under-20 championships, in 2021 and 2023 respectively. He started in the Munster championship against Tipperary and is tipped to nail down a spot on the team this year, alongside his brother Robert.

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