- Austin Gleeson (Waterford) – The hurler and young hurler of the year in 2016 Austin Gleeson will be looking to continue his fine form in the new season as he looks to help Waterford to go one step further than last year in the Allianz Hurling League when Waterford were beaten by Clare in a thrilling league final replay. After the league campaign in 2017 the Mount Sion man will be in action against either Cork or Tipperary in the championship. Gleeson at the age of 21 has many good days ahead of him in the Waterford jersey we expect.
- Tony Kelly (Clare) – At the age of just 23 the Ballyea club man has won it all already in the game bar an All-Ireland club title, however he has a chance to reach the club final in February when Ballyea take on Galway side St Thomas’ in the club semi-final. Kelly, young hurler and hurler of the year in 2013 won an All-Ireland medal at the age of just 20 and if he continues the form with his club into the county side this year he could increase his medal haul. First up for Kelly and new managers Donal Moloney and Gerry O’Connor in the championship are old foes Limerick in early June.
- John McGrath (Tipperary) – The Loughmore – Castleiney man lit up championship 2016 in his first championship season for the Premier. He scored an impressive 5-08 from play in 5 championship games, scoring 3 of them goals against Waterford in the Munster Final victory in 2016 and was also superb in the All-Ireland Final over Kilkenny scoring 1-03 from play. McGrath should have another big year in 2017 where Tipperary’s first championship match will be against Cork in May.
- Richie Hogan (Kilkenny) – Hogan has been Kilkenny’s best player over the last 2 seasons. He will be looking for a big year in 2017 where he and the rest of the Kilkenny team will be looking to regain Liam McCarthy. Hogan was impressive in all of Kilkenny’s games in 2016 from midfield and I fully expect him to be have a big say in the league and championship in 2017. First up for Kilkenny in the championship will be a semi-final clash with one of the following, Wexford, Laois, Kerry, Westmeath or Meath.
- Lee Chin (Wexford) – Chin had a good season for Wexford in 2016 and is one of the best midfielders in the game at the minute. He was immense against Cork in the championship meeting in 2016 in Thurles and I expect the Faythe Harriers club man will improve even further in 2017 under the stewardship of new manager Davy Fitzgerald. Wexford will be looking to get promotion from Division 1b but they will have tough games against Limerick and Galway, before they meet the winner of the round robin group in the Leinster quarter final.
- Ronan Maher (Tipperary) – Ronan Maher had an outstanding 2016 campaign for Tipperary and in doing so picked up his first all-star award beside his brother Padraic. Ronan at the age of just 21 has many good days to look ahead to in the blue and gold of the Premier county and another good campaign in 2017 may see him claim Liam McCarthy honours for a second successive year.
- Paul Murphy (Kilkenny) – Murphy always performs well for the Cats and is very consistent to be fair. The Danesfort club man was unlucky not to grab an all-star in 2016 after having an excellent season at corner back. He will looking to go one step further in 2017 to win his fifth All-Ireland medal.
- Seamus Callanan (Tipperary) – Callanan had a big year in 2016 having put in a man of the match performance in the All-Ireland Final scoring 0-09 from play. Callanan was pipped by Austin Gleeson to picking up the hurler of the year award an award that he in fact has never won, despite claiming 3 all-star awards at only 28 years of age. Callanan will have a big say this year and he could again be the match winner in September for Tipperary.
- Joe Canning (Galway) – After sustaining a hamstring injury in August 2016 it is unlikely that Canning will feature in the league. However, he should be back come championship and will once again be Galway’s main danger man. Canning has been one of the best forwards in the game over the last 10 years and Galway will be wanting him back for the championship, I fully expect him to return and have a big part to play in Galway’s championship.
- Conor Lehane (Cork) – Cork will need a big 2017 from Conor Lehane who is now one of the experienced members of the side despite been only 24. He needs to step up to the plate in 2017 and have a big season if Cork are going to do anything. Cork depend too much on Patrick Horgan and Lehane needs to be more consistent in games. I expect him to have a big season for Cork in 2017.