Five To Watch as Limerick welcome Tipperary in Munster U20 Final

The TUS Gaelic Grounds hosts the 2022 Munster U20 Final between Limerick and Tipperary on Wednesday evening.

Diarmuid Mullins Limerick will have home advantage as they welcome Tipperary to the TUS Gaelic Grounds in the Munster U20 Hurling Final on Wednesday evening.

Limerick have beaten Clare, Cork and Waterford on route to the final while the Premier county have accounted for Waterford, Kerry and Cork in reaching the decider.

While there has been much made of Adam English and Colin Coughlan who are both part of John Kiely’s side, there have been a number of unheralded stars who have been crucial to the sides run to the final.

English clipped over five against Waterford while Coughlan has been a pillar of strength at the back as John Kiely has resisted the urge to use him in the senior championship. Shane O’Brien also scored five in the semi-final win while Conor Hanley Clarke has been sensational between the sticks.

There have been fantastic performances from all over the squad but below we pick out five who have impressed on Limerick’s run to Wednesday evening’s final.

Fergal O’Connor (Effin)

One of the key men in leading Effin to the Intermediate title in 2021, Fergal O’Connor has continued in that form for the Limerick U20s during the Munster championship. But while O’Connor was a scoring wing forward for Effin, clipping over two points in the county final win over Croagh Kilfinny, he has been positioned on the edge of his own square for the 20s and been a force to reckoned with.

In 2015, Limerick won Munster and All-Ireland honours at U21 level with Richie English named player of the year for his performances in the No.3 jersey and O’Connor is following suit with his performances key to this side.

Aidan O’Connor (Ballybrown)

Aidan O’Connor breaks free of the Mungret challenge in the 2020 Limerick Premier Minor Hurling final between Ballybrown and Mungret St Pauls in the LIT Gaelic Grounds. Mandatory Credit: Sport Action Photography

Had a difficult night over the frees in the opener but O’Connor has replied in style which will come as no surprise to anyone that has seen him line out for his club in recent years. The premier scorer on the three-in-a-row minor team, this is O’Connor’s third year on the U20 panel. He responded to the below par Clare performance with 0-9 (7f) against Cork but really showed his worth in the semi-final against Waterford with 0-10, with half of those coming from play, while also providing his worth as a ball winner.

With Cathal O’Neill originally lining out at #11 in this campaign, O’Connor has taken up that mantle and was to the fore in that position against last years champions and Waterford. If Limerick are to win a maiden U20 provincial title, O’Connor promises to be central to that.

Ethan Hurley (Newcastle West)

A rolls royce of a centre back, Hurley is so alike to three-time All-Ireland winning captain Declan Hannon such is his hurling IQ. Whenever the sliotar is in the Limerick half, Hurley isn’t too far away with his ability to read the game of the highest order. Named at wing back in the opener at Clare, his move into the centre helped with their comeback as he and the team haven’t looked back since.

Was at centre back for successive Munster minor championship wins in 2019 & ’20 and will be desperate to add another provincial title to that list.

Electric Ireland Munster Minor Hurling Championship Final, LIT Gaelic Grounds, Limerick 30/6/2019 Clare vs Limerick Limerick’s Ethan Hurley and Killian O’Connor of Clare Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie

Also was a key cog in the all-conquering UL freshers side that claimed All-Ireland honours in February with few youngsters in the game as polished at centre back than the Newcastle West man.

Eddie Stokes (Doon)

An underrated star of the current side, Eddie Stokes is one that has certainly benefited from his time in the Limerick SHC. In his first year at adult level, he started for Doon in their run to the county final in 2020 as the east side were brushed aside by Na Piarsaigh.

Last year he continued his rise in the team, nailing down a starting berth in midfield, where he was named for the clash with Clare last month in the first round of Munster. But another who has improved on moving, Stokes relocated to wing forward as O’Connor shifted to the centre in O’Neill’s absence. In both starts on the wing, the Doon man has chipped in with a pair of scores but more than that, he has added huge industry to the role, getting up and down the field consistently.

Was at wing forward winning a Munster minor title in 2019 and will look to add to that at the U20 grade on Wednesday.

Jimmy Quilty (Blackrock)

6 April 2022; Jimmy Quilty of Limerick celebrates after teammate Cathal O’Neill, behind, scored the winning point in injury-time during the 2022 Munster GAA Hurling Under 20 Championship Group 1 Round 1 match between Limerick and Clare at TUS Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

To be named captain of your county is an honour for any player, but for Jimmy Quilty, this is his second consecutive year as captain of the Limerick U20s, highlighting his obvious leadership traits. His white helmet aside, it is easy to make comparisons to one William O’Donoghue, arguably the best midfielder in the country. Quilty is a bundle of energy in the middle of the park that is equally comfortable physically mixing it with the best as he is with sliotar in hand, similar to the senior powerhouse O’Donoghue.

Started the campaign at centre back, but has shone since his move to midfield midway through the Clare clash, a position he starred in last year.

Quilty was robbed of the chance to become the first man to captain Limerick to an U20 Munster title last summer but similar performances to the ones already produced this year could be enough to rectify that.

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