Fresh Kyle Hayes likely to shine for lively Limerick
Richie Leahy is already 4-1 favourite for Young Hurler
1 Kyle Hayes Limerick
Just 18 when he made his inter-county debut in 2017 during Limerick’s loss to Clare in the Munster Championship, he finished with 1-1 from play that day and is sure to have a massive role for Limerick in 2018.
Hayes, already an All Ireland winner with Limerick at Under-21 level, took a break from hurling over the winter to recuperate from injury and didn’t appear for University of Limerick during their victorious Fitzgibbon Cup campaign. That should pay dividends come championship.
The Kildimo-Pallaskenry clubman’s size and athleticism make him a natural ball-winner in the air, something Limerick have been lacking in recent years, and his ability to take scores will be key for the Shannonsiders.
2 Rory O’Connor Wexford
Rory O’Connor made his inter-county championship debut during Wexford’s loss to Waterford in last year’s All Ireland Quarter-Final but the nineteen-year-old has risen to prominence with his performances during the league this season returning from injury in round three against Tipperary.
He scored from the bench that day, hit four points in the following round when introduced at half-time, and while all was going wrong in the league semi-final loss to Kilkenny, O’Connor hit 12 points (eight frees) to give his side some hope.
Younger brother of half-forward, Jack, O’Connor has been making his way to this level for a number of years and the St Martin’s clubman can have a big impact on this year’s championship.
3 Richie Leahy Kilkenny
Already 4-1 favourite for Young Hurler of the Year, Leahy is another who made his championship debut in 2017 from the bench but 2018 is a big year for the Rower-Inistioge man.
A graduate of the famed hurling nursery that is St Kieran’s College, Leahy won two All-Ireland’s with his school and also has an All Ireland medal with the Kilkenny Intermediates in 2016.
Leahy’s versatility makes him a key man for Brian Cody’s side as he switched between half-forward and corner-forward in the early stages of the league, before giving a towering performance from midfield in their league final win over Tipperary.
With TJ Reid leading the Kilkenny attack, Leahy is a great addition around the middle of the field, and can take scores from distance.
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