Outstanding for the U20s last year, Joyce is still a minor in 2022, but he may not play another U20 campaign as he is almost certain to play in the senior league, despite his youth and inexperience. One of her greatest strengths is her competitiveness and her absolute desire never to be beaten by her man. An excellent pitcher, Joyce’s style is complemented by brilliant defensive instincts. He still needs to gain volume, but his frame will always help him move up to the senior level as Joyce has long arms, great reach and wide wingspan.
BRYAN O’MARA (Tipperary)
When Tipperary beat Cork in the 2019 Munster U20 Final, O’Mara demonstrated in the half-back row. He hasn’t entered the senior squad with the same profile or the same hype as some of Tipp’s other minor graduates over the past decade, but O’Mara is very similar to Brendan Maher in the way his game is complete; an excellent pitcher, mobile, good in the air, a brilliant defender who can play in a variety of different positions. A broken hand in Tipp’s opener against Limerick shattered O’Mara’s season in 2021, but he’s sure to come in 2022.
CATHAL O’NEILL (Limerick)
An excellent miner, O’Neill really showed his class and scoring ability in the 2020 Munster U20 semi-final against Cork by scoring five game points on a rainy winter night. O’Neill’s range of scores that night from all over the pitch summed up his enormous potential. When Limerick lost to Cork in the 2021 Munster U20 final last July, O’Neill scored 0-16, 15 from balls placed. Being a part of the senior panel in 2021, O’Neill is a perfect fit for Limerick’s system as he is such a tall and tall man with great throwing ability. His running game will also get faster as he gets stronger and develops more athletic power.
ANDREW DUNPHY (Dublin)
Dunphy made his senior Dublin debut against Carlow in the 2020 Walsh Cup as he made his senior league debut against Galway last July and secured his first league start in the Leinster final against Kilkenny when Cian O’Callaghan was sent off. A very good defender, Dunphy is tight, sticky, quick and difficult to escape. A good leader who was captain of the U20 for the Leinster 2020 last June against Galway. A specialist cornerback too, which is becoming more and more valuable in modern games.
SHANE MEEHAN (Claire)
A brilliant two-player, Meehan fired his first significant flare into the sky to alert the general public to his pitching skills during an exhibition against Galway in the 2019 All-Ireland Minor Quarter-Final, scoring 0-13. He played for the seniors in the league last year, but his progress has been hampered by injury and bad luck; he missed U20’s loss to Limerick in July with a wrist injury while Meehan also missed Clare U20’s loss to Tipp in October 2020. Needs to get stronger physically, but he’s a class player with a bright future ahead of him.
MIKEY KIELY (Waterford)
After scoring 2-2 against Tipperary in Waterford’s dramatic overtime loss in the 2020 Munster U20 semi-final, Kiely saw a decent amount of playing time for the seniors in 2021 given he was still on U20; he played eight games, four in the league and four in the league, scoring 0-5, including two against Tipp in the All-Ireland quarterfinal. Strong and direct, slim, good in the air, Kiely’s size and power will give Waterford more physique around the middle third. Sometimes he can take the ball too much instead of
give it to the runner, but more playing time will eliminate the creases.
RICHIE LAWLOR (Wexford)
Lawlor began to carve out his reputation in the Under-14s when Faythe Harriers won an All-Ireland Fairy na nGael title in 2016. Just three years later he was captain of Wexford with Leinster’s minor title. Studying at DCU and playing the Fitzgibbon Cup will give him more exposure to high-level hurling. Davy Fitzgerald first brought Lawlor to the Wexford panel last year, but he will be 20 in 2022 and should be better equipped to take that step. He needs to develop physically to adapt, but Lawlor is a striker with pace and skill and has no shortage of strength.
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