Six underage sensations who lived up to the hype 5 years ago

Six underage sensations who lived up to the hype

The underage stars who came good.



We decided to take a look back at the underage stars who were billed as their counties' great white hopes for the future - and the ones who were able to live up to this billing.

David Clifford (Kerry)

Underage sensation with the Kerry minors for three years. Bossed it for his school, St Brendan's. After his first season with the Kerry seniors, he's the 2/5 favourite to be named the Young Footballer of the year.


Michael Quinlivan (Tipperary) - The Clonmel Commercials player's career graph has been very much in line with the upturn in the fortunes of Tipperary football in recent years.  Is this a coincidence? The majority of the Premier County's football supporters believe not.

The tall, strong and ridiculously skillful footballer has been making his mark on Tipperary football ever since the county's All-Ireland minor triumph in 2011. Quinlivan was a key cog in this Tipperary winning side, scoring a goal in every one of the county's five games on their route to glory. Like all good players, he delivered when it mattered most slotting a penalty past the Dublin goalkeeper in front of a Hill 16 packed with ardent Dublin supporters on All-Ireland final day.

Quinlivan is now a seasoned 24-year-old. His transition from the underage ranks to senior has been as smooth as Tipperary fans could ever have hoped.  He was key to Tipperary's journey to last year's All-Ireland semi-final, before he scored 1-4 in their unexpected victory over Galway.

An All-Star desevedly followed for the powerful full-forward.


The hype obviously hasn't gone to his head.

Michael Meehan (Galway) - News of Meehan's prodigious talent went before him in Galway. The Caltra clubman played a key role in Galway's Connacht championship winning minor side of 2002.

His underage exploits led to him making his senior debut for the Tribesmen in his first year out of the minor grade in 2003 and he went on to have successful career with the Galway Seniors which spanned for 11-years until 2014. The full-forward was central to Galway's three Connacht championships in this period.


Meehan did compensate for this lack of senior success at national level with his county by winning an All-Ireland club title with Caltra, and two national Under-21 titles with Galway in 2002 and 2005 respectively. The young Meehan scored a memorable hat-trick in the 2005 All-Ireland under-21 final in which the Tribesmen defeated Down on the rare scoreline of 6-5 to 4-6.

That was quite an underage career, but he backed it up on the senior stage.

Benny Coulter (Down) - Coulter launched his underage career with an Ulster minor championship medal in 1999, and later that year won the All-Ireland-Minor Football Championship with Down - scoring 1-2 in the final.

Down manager Pete McGrath selected Coulter to make his debut for the senior team that year, despite his youth. The Mayobridge clubman has since become one of Down's greatest players. He captained the county and was described as the team's talisman and main attacking threat up until his retirement in 2014.


Coulter scored the below goal as a 16-year-old chap. Everyone present that day in 1998 would've been expecting big things from him.

He didn't disappoint.

Trevor Giles (Meath) - Giles first came to prominence when he won an All-Ireland minor medal with Meath in 1992. In 1993 he moved on to the under-21 team and won an All-Ireland title coming on as a sub in the final. That was quite an underage career for the Skryne-man.

He followed up this underage prosperity with a senior career of even more accomplishment, however.

Giles went on to be a key cog in the most successful Meath side of all time. His individual prowess is highlighted by his impressive collection of three All-Star awards and a Texaco Footballer of the Year.

The Skryne clubman played as a half-forward throughout his inter-county career, firing The Royal County to two All-Ireland Senior Football Championships and three Leinster titles.

It’s a testament to his fine career that he remains the only player to have been crowned Footballer of the Year on two occasions.

Peter Canavan (Tyrone) - Canavan captained Tyrone to two All-Ireland Under-21 Football Championship titles in 1991 and 1992, having been on the team which lost the 1990 final.

He represented the Tyrone under-21s for four years. The Errigal Ciarán clubman racked up a whopping 13–53 for The Red Hand County in this period. By the time he was 20, he was already a mainstay of the senior panel.

The dynamite attacker went on to become one of the most decorated players in the history of the GAA, winning two All-Irelands and a whopping six All-Star awards. Enough said.

An array of other footballers have enjoyed similar success to these lads at an underage level, but found the step up to senior level a whole pile more difficult.

These boys made it look easy.