The weekend gone by saw the conclusion of the JFC while there were also games in the IFC and the SFC.
St Joseph’s were crowned junior champions after defeating Kilcavan while Portlaoise and Emo will have to meet again in the IFC final after they drew in dramatic circumstances.
We also had both of the senior football semi-finals down for decision.
Portlaoise reached their eleventh straight final after a strong first half showing was enough to see off Pádraig Clancy’s Graiguecullen.
While the other game saw Ballylinan qualify for their first final in 30 years after they defeated Portarlington in a seven goal thriller.
There were plenty of fine individual displays from each of the eight teams on show and we’ve once again picked our best 15 of them:
1 – Ger Kiernan (Graiguecullen)
This came down between the Graiguecullen Number 1 and Portlaoise’s Graham Brody. The latter was particularly involved in the play out the field but Kiernan pulled off two fantastic saves, one in each half, to keep the game competitive until the end.
2 – John McEvoy (Kilcavan)
It was a very difficult evening for Kilcavan as they went down to St Joseph’s on Saturday night. But one player who certainly stood out was John McEvoy after he snuffed out several attacks and broke forward at pace routinely.
3 – Kieran Lillis (Portlaoise)
Started at centre back but found himself dropping back towards his full back line on several occasions to help limit the threat of Aaron Forbes. After an injury plagued year, Lillis looks back to his best and kicked a fine point too.
4 – Mark George (St Joseph’s)
One of three members of the victorious St Joseph’s team to make the list. Mark George followed Ollie Dixon out the field from corner back and managed to get on a lot of ball – scoring two points inside a minute in the second half.
5 – Alan Farrell (Ballylinan)
I think Alan Farrell has been in every team of the week since the championship began and he once again takes his place in the half back line. Always so composed on the ball and able to kick a score when he gets forward.
6 – Jack Brown (Portlaoise)
If it wasn’t for this man, the IFC trophy would be in Emo now. Jack Brown showed incredible composure to land the equalising free in the ninth minute of second half injury time to save a replay for Portlaoise and that alone warrants a spot in the team.
7 – Nigel Murphy (Emo)
Nigel Murphy is surely nailed on for IFC player of the year! Operating at wing back, he has scored at least one goal in each of Emo’s games this year and he did so again on Friday night.
8 – Jamie Farrell (Ballylinan)
Never gets the credit he deserves. Older brother of Alan and is one of the most consistent performers on the Ballylinan team. Scored 1-1 against Portarlington and easily won the midfield battle.
9 – Ciarán McEvoy (Portlaoise)
With Cahir Heay, Brian Glynn and Shane Nerney unavailable for the Town this year, opportunities for other players have opened up. One player who has taken this is Ciarán McEvoy. He has settled seamlessly into midfield for Malachy McNulty’s men.
10 – Ronan McEvoy (Portlaoise)
There are three of this year’s Laois minor team starting on the Portlaoise intermediate team. They all performed well against Emo but one who really stood out was Ronan McEvoy. He has incredible pace and kicked three lovely points over the hour.
11 – Tom Kelly (St Joseph’s)
What can you say about this man? After missing the last seven years following a serious neck injury, Tom Kelly returned to play junior this year and kicked 1-3 in the final. A remarkable performance.
12 – Evan Costello (Emo)
Evan Costello has been plagued with injuries over the last few years. But if he’s fit, there aren’t many better forwards in the county. He scored 1-4 against Portlaoise in the IFC final and had a big hand in David Gorman’s late goal too.
13 – Tommy Knowles (St Joseph’s)
The man of the match from the JFC final is full value for his place here. He kicked seven points, five from play, and was excellent. He has been a consistent performer throughout the year for St Joseph’s second string.
14 – David Murphy (Portarlington)
It’s rare that a player will score 2-4 from play in a championship semi-final and come out on the losing side. But that is exactly what happened to David Murphy on Sunday as despite his best efforts, his side lost by five points in the end.
15 – Gary Walsh (Ballylinan)
Gary Walsh’s participation in this year’s SFC was in doubt a few months ago when he suffered a knee injury. However, he recovered and has fired Ballylinan to the final for the first time since 1987 – kicking 1-3 on Sunday.