The Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup, the premier third level hurling competition, gets underway on January 18th. The tournament sees some of the inter-county game's top names band together as rivals become teammates. We've chosen 10 hurlers to watch out for this year.
Team: Mary Immaculate College
Studying: Bachelor of Education
The Lismore powerhouse was Man of the Match at midfield in Waterford's 2022 National Hurling League Division 1 final victory over Cork. Though neither his nor Waterford's summer caught fire as expected there after. Daly's championship - his debut one - was hampered by an ankle injury, and Waterford's by factors unknown.
Daly, whose older brother Iarlaith will line out for UCC in the Fitzgibbon Cup, was still rehabbing that ankle injury in recent weeks, but did line out for Waterford in their Munster Hurling League game against Tipperary. If he gets the ankleright, he will be a key player for Mary I.
Team: University of Limerick
Studying: BSC Physical Education
— Paul Jenkins (@Paul_Jenkins1) April 6, 2022
2022 was a breakthrough year for Cathal O'Neill at inter-county level. The Crecora/Manister forward was the hero for Limerick in a dramatic Munster U20 Hurling Championship victory over Clare, scoring 1-1 in dying minutes, and 2-3 overall. However, an appearance for county's seniors against Cork - one in which he scored two points - meant he was no longer eligible to feature in last year's U20 Championship.
When Cian Lynch suffered a serious hamstring injury during the Munster Championship, O'Neill stepped in to fill the gap left by the two-time Hurler of the Year. He went on to score a point off the bench in the All-Ireland final against Kilkenny.
Team: SETU Waterford
Club: De La Salle
Studying: Higher Certificate in Business
2023 has already been a year to remember for Reuben Halloran. The De La Salle midfielder made his Waterford senior debut in the Munster Hurling League victory over Tipperary, scoring seven points from placed balls. Five days later, he scored all of his club's 1-14 as they beat Abbeyside to win the Waterford U20 A hurling final.
"I would probably put it up there as the best display I had," Halloran told WLR FM, "not many days I can say I scored 1-14 and not anyone else scoring but I was kind of expecting going into the game that one or two fellas would get a point here or there like usual but I wasn't expecting to get it all."
Congratulations to @DLSGAA County Under 20 A Hurling Champions. Pictured here is County Board Chairman Sean M O'Regan presenting the cup to De La Salle Captain Reuben Halloran, who was also named man of the match. pic.twitter.com/aZzDGbENvn
— Waterford GAA (@WaterfordGAA) January 8, 2023
Team: University of Maynooth
Studying: Bachelor Of Arts
Drennan was the star player for the Kilkenny U20s last year as they won the All-Ireland title with a victory over Limerick. The forward scored 0-17 (0-16 from placed balls) in an extra-time Leinster semi-final victory over Galway, and later 0-9 (0-4 from placed balls) in the All-Ireland final.
Derek Lyng, the man chosen to succeed Brian Cody as Kilkenny manager, led that U20 team to the title. So it was no surprise to see Drennan lining out for the Cats in their opening game of 2023 against Offaly in the Walsh Cup. The Galmoy man scored nine points, including three from play, in the win.
Team: MTU Cork
Studying: Bachelor of Science in Agriculture
Ciarán Joyce was outstanding for Cork in the 2022 SHC season. He has been nominated for the 2022 the PwC GAA / GPA Young Player of the Year in Hurling Award!
— The GAA (@officialgaa) October 28, 2022
Last season saw Joyce make the transition from highly-regarded underage star to the Cork senior team. The Castlemartyr defender, a two-time All-Ireland U20 Championship winner, hardly missed a step. He nailed down the Cork number six jersey as his, earned an All-Star nomination, and was nominated for Young Hurler of the Year.
Team: SETU Carlow
Club: James Stephens
Studying: Special Needs Assistant
Though Kilkenny did not win All-Ireland in Brian Cody's final season in charge, he did leave them in as good a spot as they've been in many. 2022 saw Mikey Butler, Mikey Carey and Cian Kenny all establish themselves in the senior team. Kenny, a versatile and skilful, midfielder or forward had a fine debut season for the Cats.
— The GAA (@officialgaa) July 2, 2022
Club: Salthill Knocknacarra
Studying: Economics & Finance
The Salthill Knocknacarra forward was called up the Galway senior panel last year. He was a star at underage level for the county, being named Electric Ireland Minor Hurler of the Year in 2018. O'Shea scored 0-10 in that year's decider against Kilkenny as Galway won the second of its four-in-a-row at minor level.
Earlier this month, O'Shea scored three points from play in Galway's opening game of 2023 against Westmeath in the Walsh Cup. He is the son of Tipperary All-Ireland winning manager Eamon O'Shea.
Team: University of Galway
The 2019 and 2020 All-Ireland minor winner really caught the eye during last year's Galway Senior Hurling Championship as his Loughrea side reached the final, and went toe-to-toe with St Thomas's. He scored a dramatic equaliser to take the final to a replay. Though he scored three points from play on the second day, Loughrea fell by a point to the reigning champions.
What a score from Tiernan Killeen to level it and what a game of hurling!
County final on the line and some score under pressure.
— StreamSport.ie (@StreamsportI) November 20, 2022
Club: St Finbarrs
Studying: Business Information Systems
One of several young players from St Finbarr's who look likely to make an impact with the Cork hurlers in the coming seasons. Twomey and Ben O'Connor made a formidable midfield partnership for the Barrs last year as the club won its first county hurling title since 1993. The 2021 All-Ireland U20 Championship winner impressed for Cork in their Munster Hurling League win against Kerry earlier this month.
GOAL!!! @the_Barrs off to a fast start! Ethan Twomey with a 🚀
— Irish Examiner Sport (@ExaminerSport) August 28, 2022
Club: Ballyhale Shamrocks
Studying: Accounting & Finance
Any chance to watch the 22-year-old play should be seized. One of the best hurlers in the country right now. Combines skill and scoring ability with a hunger for the dirty work.
Mullen, who has operated at half-forward and midfield for club and county, is a two-time All-Ireland Senior Club Hurling Championship winner with Ballyhale, and may pick up a third medal in the coming weeks. He was also named Young Hurler of the Year in 2019, his debut season at senior level.