Galway's Aaron Niland has been one of the standout players in this year's Electric Ireland All-Ireland Minor Hurling Championship.
As Galway won the county's first ever Leinster minor hurling title with victory over Kilkenny, the Clarinbridge forward scored 0-11 with four of those points coming from play. In total, Niland scored 3-56 across five games.
This Saturday, Galway face Cork in the All-Ireland semi-final while Kilkenny play Munster champions Clare.
"The Galway team is strong," says Kilkenny great Michael Fennelly, speaking at the launch of this year’s Electric Ireland GAA Minor Championships.
"Young Niland is a serious player, and definitely one for the future. He sticks out in Kilkenny terms as a Richie Power or a Cha Fitzpatrick - someone that's really well ahead of the curve. To be fair, he's got 14 other teammates there as well.
"The hurling is quite good, and it's always good in Galway - always fast and skilful. They always produce good, strong minor teams. They have a history of it."
Fennelly won an All-Ireland minor title in 2003 alongside future Kilkenny senior teammates like James McGarry, Cha Fitzpatrick, John Tennyson, and Richie Power.
While he has praise for Niland, the eight-time All-Ireland senior winner believes a key factor in young players making the transition to senior level is them not reading too much into it.
"That's one of the main things, not thinking that you're going to be a star in the future," he says.
"I recall when I was 19 - 20, I would have seen articles written about myself saying that I'm up and coming, the next player. I would have read those and been like, 'That's good to hear, good to know'.
"It gave me a false sense of security, to be honest, that I am going to make it. I wouldn't be reading into those things. You have to go out and perform every day that you put on the jersey. You're only as good as your last performance. It's a tough saying but it's true.
"There will be ups and downs in your career as well. There will be times when you mightn't be hurling overly well, and that happens. I wouldn't be getting too upset about that once you're still trying to do your best, still working hard - things will come back to you at a certain stage."
2011 Hurler of the Year Fennelly also feels playing in the Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup is another stepping stone for young player.
"For the guys that are fortunate enough to go to college, and go in a different county... For me that opened up a lot of different things," he says.
"That was exciting to go down to Cork, play with Aisake O'hAilpín, to play with the Tipperary boys, play with guys from Kerry. You saw a different brand of hurling. It was very exciting.
"My fresher time in first year, I really enjoyed it, relished it. There was no pressure. I was down in Cork, and no one knew anything about me. I could hurl away and do what I wanted. I probably expressed myself an awful lot more down there during that time than I ever did."
Another week, another 21-yard goal for Aaron Niland! That's 3 games in a row for the Clarinbridge man 🤯
Watch the full game ➡️ https://t.co/8RTIDVIpju@ClarinbridgeGaa | @Galway_GAA | @gaaleinster pic.twitter.com/yyLjnqyw5V
— Clubber (@clubber) April 7, 2023
This summer, Electric Ireland will use their social channels to spotlight players from across the Championships, in recognition of the major impact that playing Minor can have on young people’s future successes, on and off the field. You can follow the campaign on social media @ElectricIreland and via the hashtag #ThisIsMajor.