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10 Players To Watch Out For In The 2023 Fitzgibbon Cup

10 Players To Watch Out For In The 2023 Fitzgibbon Cup
By PJ Browne Updated
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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.

Carthach Daly

Team: Mary Immaculate College
Club: Lismore
County: Waterford
Studying: Bachelor of Education

2 April 2022; Carthach Daly of Waterford is tackled by Darragh Fitzgibbon of Cork during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Final match between Cork and Waterford at FBD Semple Stadium in Thurles, Tipperary. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

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.

Cathal O'Neill

Team: University of Limerick
Club: Crecora/Manister
County: Limerick
Studying: BSC Physical Education

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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.

Reuben Halloran

Team: SETU Waterford
Club: De La Salle
County: Waterford
Studying: Higher Certificate in Business

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3 January 2023; Reuben Halloran of Waterford, right, protests to referee John O'Halloran during the Co-Op Superstores Munster Hurling League Group 1 match between Waterford and Tipperary Mallow GAA Sports Complex in Cork. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

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.

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"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."

Billy Drennan

Team: University of Maynooth
Club: Galmoy
County: Kilkenny
Studying: Bachelor Of Arts

28 September 2019; Pictured is the Electric Ireland Minor Hurling All-Star winner Billy Drennan of Kilkenny at the 2019 Electric Ireland Minor Star Awards alongside, from left, Munster Council chairman Liam Lenihan, Derek McGrath and Executive Director of ESB Marguerite Sayers. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

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.

Ciaran Joyce

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Team: MTU Cork
Club: Castlemartyr
County: Cork
Studying: Bachelor of Science in Agriculture

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.

Cian Kenny

Team: SETU Carlow
Club: James Stephens
County: Kilkenny
Studying: Special Needs Assistant

2 February 2022; Cian Kenny, right, and Aidan Redmond of IT Carlow congratulate each other after their side's victory in the Electric Ireland HE GAA Fitzgibbon Cup Round 3 match between DCU Dóchas Éireann and IT Carlow at Dublin City University Sportsground in Dublin. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

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.

Dónal O'Shea

Team: UCD
Club: Salthill Knocknacarra
County: Galway
Studying: Economics & Finance

19 January 2022; Dónal O'Shea of UCD in action against Ian McGlynn of NUIG during the Electric Ireland Higher Education GAA Fitzgibbon Cup Round 1 match between University College Dublin and National University of Ireland Galway at UCD Billings Park in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

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.

Tiernan Killeen

Team: University of Galway
Club: Loughrea
County: Galway
Studying: Arts

18 August 2019; Tiernan Killeen of Galway celebrates following his side's victory during the Electric Ireland GAA Hurling All-Ireland Minor Championship Final match between Kilkenny and Galway at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

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.

Ethan Twomey

Team: UCC
Club: St Finbarrs
County: Cork
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.

Adrian Mullen

Team: DCU
Club: Ballyhale Shamrocks
County: Kilkenny
Studying: Accounting & Finance

8 February 2020; Adrian Mullen of DCU Dóchas Éireann scores a point under pressure from David Griffin of UCC during the Fitzgibbon Cup Semi-Final match between DCU Dóchas Éireann and UCC at Dublin City University Sportsgrounds. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

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.

See Also: 5 Of The Most Exciting Teams In This Year's Fitzgibbon Cup

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