The national hurling and football leagues are fast approaching, and with the Master Plan of fixtures implemented, it means that they’re approaching faster than ever.
The competitive competition serves for some great occasions across a number of months.
Whether it’s hurling or Gaelic football, the excitement builds around the land as counties embark on yet another year of competitive sport.
The television coverage returns, but while this is certainly a great thing, players that compete in the lower divisions of the league, or the so-called ‘weaker counties’, are overshadowed.
Here, we look at six young hurlers outside of the National league’s top competitors that are expected to have a big year.
Killian Doyle, Westmeath
At this stage, Doyle is a household name in the Lake County. Despite playing at centre-forward on the Westmeath senior hurling team for most of last year, the DIT student is only aged 20.
The Raharney club man was an integral member of The Lake County’s historic u-21 victory against Kilkenny in 2015 while has also inspired his club to senior hurling success in 2014 and 2016 respectively.
Cormac O’Doherty, Derry
Slaughtneil’s full-forward Cormac O’Doherty played a pivotal role in Derry’s u-21 provincial hurling success last year.
Attaining silverware in the competition for the first time since 2008, O’Doherty was also an influential figure with his club as they won the Derry and Ulster Senior Hurling Championship before embarking on their quest to Croke Park.
Leigh Bergin, Laois
The powerhouse Laois defender has been making monumental strides over the past number of years.
The Shanahoe club man impressed in the full-back position with the Laois seniors in 2017, and in 2018 the O’Moore County faithful will be hoping for more of the same towering performances.
In this years’ Walsh Cup, the 21-year-old was step-in captain in the absence of Ross King, which is a true testament to his character.
Oisin Kelly, Offaly
Since making his debut with the Offaly Seniors in 2016, the Belmont club man has continued to make progress – and a result of this progression meant he nailed down a starting place for Offaly’s 2017 championship campaign at corner-forward.
Already this year, Kelly’s performance gained headlines after he struck 1-01 in Offaly’s three-point victory over Westmeath during a Walsh Cup clash in Mullingar.
Jack Goulding, Kerry
The nippy corner-forward was part of the Kerry team that historically overcame Cork in the Munster Hurling League, but Goulding’s name has been long doing the rounds in Kerry hurling.
In 2017, his classy hurling skills were highlighted to the wider public after his dominance in the All-Ireland ‘B’ final broke many Wicklow hearts live on TG4.
That day, Goulding scored 1-03, was the recipient of the Man of the Match award and illustrated just how impressive hurlers from so-called weaker counties can be.
Jason Redmond, Pundit Arena