Hyland named as U20 Player of the Year
By Daire Walsh
EIRGRID U20 Player of the Year 2018 Jimmy Hyland admitted yesterday that Kildare’s All-Ireland success in the inaugural Under-20 Football Championship exceeded the expectations of the squad.
After amassing an extraordinary tally of 3-55 over the course of eight games – including a 0-10 haul in the inaugural decider against Mayo at Croke Park – Hyland was a popular choice for the competition’s key individual award.
“Not an All-Ireland. We would have started out with Leinster. I wasn’t really there. I didn’t really train with the U20s as such, because I was with the seniors for the league,” the Ballyteague man remarked at Teneo PSG on Dublin’s southside.
“Before the Carlow championship games, Cian was letting us back to the U20s for the two games at the time, Laois and Meath. We lost to Meath, but we got a roll going then and he left us be with the U20s. But no, we wouldn’t have been talking about an All-Ireland when I was there anyway.”
When Davy Burke’s charges faced down Dublin in the Leinster final on July 6, the county had been galvanised by the senior side’s qualifier triumph over a hotly-fancied Mayo at St Conleth’s Park six days earlier.
Having witnessed the ‘Newbridge Or Nowhere’ campaign first-hand, Hyland is well-placed to evaluate the lasting impact it had on their season.
“That was a mad week. Everyone in the county was fully for it. Newbridge, that was where we were going to play the match. That’s what they were going with. It actually kickstarted the whole season. The juniors, everyone was winning and on a roll then. Right the way through.”
With back-to-back Leinster minor titles (2015 and 2016) also under his belt, Hyland has been accustomed to success at the underage inter-county grades.
However, despite not being overawed by the presence of the sky blue jersey up to this point in his career, he accepts there is currently a massive gulf between Dublin and the rest of the province at senior level.
“We wouldn’t fear them at our age. They’re good at our age, no doubting it, but we wouldn’t fear them the way the seniors have been feared.
“It’s going to take a massive effort. Dublin aren’t coming back to the pack any time soon. It’ll take one of us to bridge the gap. It’s going to take a lot of hard work.”
After featuring in five games out of seven for Kildare in Division One of the Allianz National League, Hyland will be pushing for a prominent role in 2019. Although the future of Lillies boss Cian O’Neill is still undecided, the 20-year-old Maynooth University student hopes to see him remaining in charge.
“There’d be a couple of the U20s there, I suppose, and it would be their ambition to try to get a starting spot really. I think Cian is very good in fairness. He’s very understanding. I’m happy to see him stay on anyway,” Hyland added.