Five footballers to watch for 2020
courtesy of RTE
Paudie Clifford (Kerry)
With Clifford as a surname, Paudie was never likely to slip under the radar, but 2020 could be a significant year for David’s older brother.
Instrumental in East Kerry’s first county title in 20 years, the potent forward was named man of the match in the decider and has done enough to warrant action for Kerry seniors, at least starting out with the early season competitions.
A Sigerson Cup medal winner with UCC this year and a Junior All-Ireland winner in 2018, he was a surprise exclusion in the Kerry set-up under Peter Keane in 2019, but his performances are likely to warrant at least some early season action in 2020.
David Clifford says his sibling played “ridiculous” football this year, while former Kerry forward Colm Cooper accurately predicted it would be only a matter of time before he dons the green and gold at senior level.
“He can score, he travels very strong with the ball and he has a lot of things going for him,” he said shortly before it was confirmed Clifford would be part of Keane’s early season Kerry panel.
Damien Gore (Cork)
The Kilmacabea forward is yet to make his championship bow for the Rebels, but the main reason for that is an ankle injury picked in May.
Gore had featured in four league outings in 2019, but Ronan McCarthy had to plan without the corner-forward for the summer. He did however make a full recovery and was instrumental in the U-20’s comeback victory over Dublin in the All-Ireland final, picking off four points from play.
Had he played senior football, he would have been ineligible to play in the U-20 grade.
A prolific scorer in the minor grade at a time where Cork came unstuck against successive all-conquering Kerry teams, Gore’s ball winning ability, awareness of space and deadly accuracy could be a major boon to the Rebels as they look to make a swift return to Division Two football and compete for a place in the Super 8s.
Oisin Mullin (Mayo)
Named among the top 20 players of this U-20 competition, defender Oisin Mullin has already caught the eye of James Horan.
Mullin was called into the senior panel last season on the back of impressive showings with the U-20s and was an unused substitute in the Super 8s contest against Mayo in Croke Park.
It has been a busy winter for the young defender as he was part of the Kilmaine team that claimed a Connacht junior title and started at wing-back in an experimental Mayo side that defeated the Underdogs in October.
A player with no shortage of silverware to date – he won a schools All-Ireland in 2017 with Ballinrobe – he could be part of a fresh crop of Mayo players ready to make an imprint on the starting team.
Peadar Ó Cofaigh Byrne (Dublin)
“He’s an absolute beast, but he’s mobile as well. So you’re going to see a lot more of him.” Those are the words of Brian Fenton, the five-time All-Ireland winner speaking shortly after their latest Sam Maguire success.
Ó Cofaigh Byrne was part of the Dublin U-20 team that reached this year’s All-Ireland final, with his black card a significant contribution to Cork’s victory on the day.
The 6’6” midfielder is touching on 100kgs and offers a formidable presence around the middle third. Jim Gavin saw enough in the Cuala man to give him his chance during the Super 8s dead rubber against Tyrone this year and was part of the match-day squad for the All-Ireland final.
Used for large parts of his underage club career at full-back, Ó Cofaigh Byrne is likely to become a bigger part of new manager Dessie Farrell’s plans over the coming 12 months and recently captained his club to an U21 county title.
Eoghan McGettigan (Donegal)
The Donegal forward line is becoming an increasingly competitive environment, but Eoghan McGettigan is doing his best at club level to catch Declan Bonner’s eye.
The Naomh Conaill man has starred at centre-forward on their journey to an Ulster final, kicking six points in the semi-final win over Clontibret.
Eoghan McGettigan, left, has been a key part of Glenties’ success this season
Bonner in fact drafted McGettigan into his larger panel in the earlier part of the year, and his lively performances in the 11 jersey, not to mind deadly finishing, should see him put forward a better case for Donegal inclusion.