Laois’s hopes of instant promotion from Division 4 of the Allianz Football League have been dealt a massive blow with the news that top forward Donie Kingston has opted not to rejoin the panel.
The Arles-Killeen man will miss the county’s league campaign and may not return for the championship.
Colm Keys reports in today’s Irish Independent that Kingston is playing basketball for the winter and has turned down requests to link up with Laois who have resumed training in recent weeks under new manager John Sugrue.
And speaking to LaoisToday this morning, the new Laois manager confirmed the news.
He said: “It is left in his court now and the door is always open to him.”
His absence would rob Laois of one of the top forwards around. Kingston scored 3-18 in Laois’s four championship games this summer and hit 3-13 in the two league games prior to that.
He first played for Laois while still a minor under Liam Kearns back in 2008 and while he took a year out in 2011, he has played under six different Laois managers – Kearns, Sean Dempsey, Justin McNulty, Tomas O Flatharta, Mick Lillis and Peter Creedon.
He was nominated for an All Star in 2015 and has routinely been one of Laois’s top performers. In recent years he has been joined on the panel by his younger brother Paul – who we understand will be part of the team this year.
For the first time in 50 years, Laois will play in the bottom division of the National Football League.
Laois begin that campaign at home to Limerick on Saturday, January 27, the first of seven games in a nine-week period. Their only free weekends will be February 17/18 and March 17/18 with games against Leitrim (away), Waterford (home), Wicklow (away), Antrim (home), London (away) and Carlow (away).