Players that could break into the county scene in 2018
With the club titles all handed out for 2017, the question is which players could fuel their counties in 2018. All across the country, managers at the top level are wondering how and who they can add to their set-ups. In a sport where small margins make all the difference, an extra bit of quality might tip the scales. We’ve looked at some club stars, who either have never had the chance or have been away for some time, who could do just that. Please let us know on social media who you would like to see added to the list.
Eanna O’Connor (Kildare)
The 25-year-old joined Moorefield in 2014 and has been a key part of the side since. The Kerry native — son of Jack — is a quality free-taker, and that’s something Kildare have perhaps lacked since Johnny Doyle retired. He has been in and out of the county panel, mostly during the league, but may now finally be ready to make an impact under Cian O’Neill. James Murray is another Moorefield man who could add something to the Lilywhite cause.
Ciaran Sheehan (Eire Og, Cork)
Spent four years in the AFL with Carlton Blues but has now announced his retirement from the sport. Having just turned 27, the 2010 All-Ireland winner with Cork would be a hugely-welcomed addition to the county panel. Sheehan has had a terrible time of it with injuries though, including three hip surgeries, two knee surgeries and a broken nose. Should he decide to stay on Leeside, maintain full fitness, and join up with Ronan McCarthy’s panel, the powerful forward could help break Kerry’s stranglehold on Munster.
Rian Brady (Mullinalaghta)
The Mullinalaghta man is now on the Longford panel but hasn’t yet featured for the county. Man of the match in the Longford final against Abbeylara and excellent in Leinster until they were defeated by St Loman’s. A lively corner-forward with a cultured left-foot, he is also well able to take a point. Keep an eye out for Pauric Gill returning to the panel at the age of 28 — the speedy Fr Manning Gaels man was a three-year minor with the county. Peter Foy is another to return to fold fray under Denis Connerton.
Ronan O’Toole (St Loman’s, Westmeath)
A former Under-21 county panellist, O’Toole has never featured for the Lake County senior side, nor has he been in with the panel. The roving half-forward could be unleashed by new boss Colin Kelly in 2018 though, after a fine season with St Loman’s. Hit 1-2 in the Leinster club final against Moorefield, including a goal with six minutes to go that seemed to secure victory for the Westmeath side — before the Kildare men rallied.
Padraig McKeever (Simonstown)
McKeever was once a Meath panellist under Mick O’Dowd but injury has cruelly robbed the Simonstown man of making an impact at the top level. He suffered bad knee blows two and four years ago respectively, but has since returned to fitness to become a huge asset for Simonstown. He was a key component of the back-to-back county title wins, and recently helped himself to 0-4 in the Leinster quarter-final win over Starlights of Wexford. At 26, time is on McKeever’s side.
Stephen McBrearty (Kilcar, Donegal)
McBrearty was away in America for the 2017 AIB All-Ireland SFC after getting just limited time during the league. He is the younger brother of star footballer Paddy, and helped Tir Chonaill to the 2014 All-Ireland MFC final where they lost to Kerry. After returning from the States, Stephen helped Kilcar to a first county title in 24 years before Slaughtneil proved to be too strong in Ulster. After seeing him dovetail so well with his brother in the Kilcar attack, new Donegal boss Declan Bonner could turn to a youngster he trusted at underage level.