Four GAA Players To Watch Out For In 2013

Seanie Johnston kicks a point 15/7/2012The Allianz Football Leagues starts in early February and the GAA community is eagerly awaiting its return. Donegal’s rise to prominence in recent seasons culminating in last September’s All-Ireland success has given other counties belief and impetus to push on and look for honours this season. Attendances were high in the provincial warm-up competitions this January and there is a genuine excitement among players and fans alike heading into the Allianz National Football League.

Four players to look out for in the league will be:

Div.4 – Ian Ryan (Limerick)

The big St Senan’s man is key to Limerick’s success in division 4. Given the captain’s armband, Ryan has the ability to knock up big scores against any defence. After turning down the opportunity of Australian Rules Football as a teenager, Ryan has matured into one of the best forwards in Munster. While Limerick is a dual-county where football and hurling vie for supremacy, expect a push for promotion to help the Shannonsiders garner support from the Limerick people. Ryan will be key to that promotion bid. He is a big, strong and pacy forward who is well capable of winning any ball that comes his direction. When he scored 3-7 in a qualifier defeat of Meath in 2008, he gave the country an insight into his talents. This year, expect him to reach the next level.

Division 3 – Donal Keoghan (Meath)

2012 was a very odd year for Meath. Relegation from division 2 was undoubtedly a very low point for the proud Royals. The subsequent attempted heave of manager Seamus ‘Banty’ McEnaney was a regretful saga played out in front of the national media. Sean Boylan was poised to return to the Meath hot-seat until a county board vote failed to reach the necessary 2/3 majority to remove the embattled Farney man. With John Evans brought in on board as a coach, the Meath management decided to take a chance on youth for the forthcoming Leinster campaign. While Damian Carroll and Alan Forde made a considerable impact on the Meath run to the Leinster final, the most impressive young player was corner-back Donal Keoghan.

Keoghan has all the ingredients to become an all-star corner-back for years to come. Tenacious in the tackle, a great reader of the game and a very good ball player, the Rathkenny clubman will be a key player again for Meath this year. He picked up an injury in the O’Byrne cup win over Longford but expect the young man to be back fit for the round 1 fixture against Monaghan. After an all-star nomination last year, Keoghan will be looking to help Mick O’ Dowd gain promotion in his first year in charge.

Division 2 – Sean McCormack (Longford)

Longford’s attacking football has earned them a lot of new fans over recent years. While Paul Barden has long been a stalwart for the midlanders, Sean McCormack looks ready to take the mantle as the chief marksman for Longford. After leading his native club Killoe to their first championship in 20 years, McCormack is set on helping Longford to their third successive promotion. After man-of-the-match performances in the division 4 and 3 finals respectively, he is the man for the big occasion. His inimitable free-taking approach can be humorous to watch but not many corner backs find the funny side of his ability to knock up big scores time and time again. Glenn Ryan will look to McCormack to carry his young side to the next level in what is now the Kildare man’s fifth season in charge.

Division 1 – Seanie Johnston (Cav—Kildare)

Cavan man Johnston’s transfer to Kildare was probably the biggest off-field storyline in GAA last year. This was an impressive feat given the fact that Conor Mortimer and Seamus McEnaney were also involved in pretty high profile incidents. The ethical and moral issues of the transfer have been discussed in great detail amid the uncertainty of his claim to represent Kildare. What is unquestionable though, is the fact that Kildare have captured one of the most clinical corner-forwards in Ireland. For years, Johnston kicked ridiculous high totals for Cavan and his club Cavan Gaels. With a proper pre-season behind him, expect Johnston to get headlines for the right reasons this season. Kildare might have found the missing ingredient in a Leinster title push in what is probably Kieran McGeeney’s last year in charge.

By Emmet Masterson

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