Home GAA Ten Stars Who Have Enjoyed A Breakthrough Allianz League Campaign So Far

Ten Stars Who Have Enjoyed A Breakthrough Allianz League Campaign So Far

The Allianz National Leagues are in full swing, as managers aim to get their teams up to full pace ahead of the summer. After some enthralling clashes thus far, we look at ten players who have enjoyed breakthrough campaigns.

Football:

Lee Brennan – Tyrone

Following the retirement of Sean Cavanagh, Tyrone needed somebody to fill a significant gap in the attack. Of course, Brennan is stylistically a different player to the Moy club man, but he has linked up well with the other forwards, including the returning Connor McAliskey. While it is early days, they look to have a slicker attacking unit since Stephen O’Neill came in.

1-09 from Brennan in the last two games has eased the scoring burden on others, and if he continues to produce, Mickey Harte has another string to his bow ahead of the summer.

Allianz Football League Division 1, Healy Park, Omagh, County Tyrone 3/2/2018 Tyrone vs Dublin Tyrone's Lee Brennan Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Philip Magowan

Shane Murphy – Kerry

After Brian Kelly and Brendan Kealy rotated goalkeeping duties for the Kingdom in last year’s Allianz League, Kealy stepped away from the squad in the summer. Kelly resided between the sticks for the Championship, as they lost to Mayo in the All-Ireland semi-final.

Shane Murphy’s showings for Dr Crokes in their run to the Munster final clearly caught the attention of Éamonn Fitzmaurice. Indeed, his display in that loss to Nemo Rangers was straight from the top drawer, as the Kerry club would have been truly hammered were it not for the heroics of Murphy.

He has now stepped up to the plate for Kerry in the League and will be hoping to retain the spot for the year.

Conor McCarthy – Monaghan

Monaghan’s over-reliance on Conor McManus has been no secret, and the emergence of Jack McCarron last year certainly helped in that regard. However, Malachy O’Rourke probably felt that they are another top class forward or two away from mixing it with the big guns.

Conor McCarthy impressed in his first two appearances of the campaign. Having missed out on the Kerry win due to playing the Sigerson Cup final 24 hours earlier in which he scored 1-06, McCarthy is really making headlines for the right reasons.

Brian Howard – Dublin

Like the great Kilkenny teams in recent times, there appears no urgent need for new talent this year for Dublin, but the All-Ireland champions’ conveyor belt keeps moving. Brian Howard is the latest to stake a claim for the summer starting berth.

The Raheny club man has started all three of Dublin’s Allianz League games so far, rewarding the management’s faith with scoring returns.

Jim Gavin is clearly impressed, and Howard looks well placed to retain his spot in an ultra-competitive forward division.

Allianz Football League Division 1, Croke Park, Dublin 27/1/2018 Dublin vs Kildare Dublin's Brian Howard Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Paddy McBrearty – Donegal

The Donegal star was hardly an unknown quantity coming into this League campaign, but there’s no doubting that he has raised his game to the next level judging by his last three showings.

His spearheading of a comeback against Dublin at Croke Park shot him into the conversation about the country’s best forwards, as he raised seven white flags with sweet strikes.

Hurling:

Tim O’Mahony – Cork

John Meyler has made it clear that this campaign is all about unearthing new talent for the Rebels. In truth, we could have selected a number of Cork players in this list. Meyler has brought in the likes of Robbie O’Flynn and Sean O’Donoghue who could well start in the Munster Championship.

O’Mahony has been a rock at centre-back as the Newtownshandrum club man has made the position his own with Mark Ellis being moved around. The loss of Stephen McDonnell means the defence has lost a leader, but O’Mahony has linked up well with Eoin Cadogan and Co. thus far in the League.

David Reidy – Clare

Clare have gotten off to a flier in the League, with three wins from three against the traditional big guns in Tipperary, Kilkenny and Cork.

Michael O’Malley put in a man of the match display against the Rebels, while Peter Duggan has seriously raised his game this term.

However, David Reidy has been a revelation for the Banner, winning ball and bursting forward to raise green flags. There is no doubting the ability of this Clare team, but if all their big stars lift their performance levels akin to Reidy, they will be there or thereabouts come August.

Martin Keoghan – Kilkenny

Results were never going to be the name of the game for Brian Cody this springtime, but unearthing new talent was of critical importance.

With the retirement of Michael Fennelly and absence of Colin Fennelly and Paul Murphy, the Cats needed some of the younger contingent to stand up.

Martin Keoghan did just that last Sunday in Walsh Park, scoring five points from play. One strong showing won’t be enough to nail down a starting place for the summer, but he will be presented with more opportunities in the coming weeks.

Daragh Mooney – Tipperary

Mooney has been no stranger to senior intercounty action. He was in and out of the side last season. However, Michael Ryan settled on Darren Gleeson towards the end of the summer.

Since Gleeson’s retirement, the number 1 jersey is up for grabs. Paul Maher was preferred in the first two games, but when given the opportunity against Wexford last week, Mooney seized it with both hands, producing two stunning saves, and his distribution was on the money throughout.

With Maher away on Fitzgibbon Cup duty this weekend, Mooney has a chance to solidify his place as first-choice keeper against Kilkenny.

Aaron Gillane – Limerick

It would be easy to forget that this is Gillane’s first season proper at senior intercounty hurling. The star of the Treaty’s U21 triumph last year has taken to the senior grade quickly, rampaging in attack as Limerick powered to three consecutive wins.

He has expertly deputised with frees in the absence of the Na Piarsaigh contingent, and reactions like this sum up just how good he has been so far this year.

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This article was supported by Allianz, supporting all 32 counties through the Allianz Leagues.

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