After the success of the article honouring the toughest men to play football in Laois, we had to do a hurling equivalent.
And while there was certainly some controversy over those who we left out, there can be no disputing the lads who made the list.
They say good things come to those who wait and after the success of our hardiest football team, we’ve finally come up the hurling equivalent.
Once again this list is inspired by the greatness of our local comedian Mark Doheny who penned ’17 lessons from playing hurling in Laois’.
Number 7 on the list was: “If you even thought about hitting anybody from Camross assume he’ll have at least three brothers on the team and think again. The same was the case with Clonaslee.”
It was a good-humoured nod to Camross and Clonaslee’s reputation for producing tough players over the years, ones nobody ever really liked running into.
The same man inspired our hardy footballers list and we simply couldn’t resist the opportunity to do a hurling one.
We’ve limited it to the last 20 years and it’s by no means a definitive one but these are or were all hardy hoors on the hurling field.
We don’t mean they were dirty and although some lost battles with referees over the years, most were tough, fair, uncompromising but definitely lads you’d rather have with you than against you.
Feel free to let us know who we may have left out.
Damien Keenan (Camross)
Could feel hard done by not to have made our team of the year this year but certainly worth his place here. Most of the Camross lads are tough as nails and Keenan exemplifies everything that is good about them.
Declan Conroy (Rosenallis)
Carried the can for his native club for a very long time. Spent the latter part of his career sporting a blue knee support. Represented Laois brilliantly too.
James Young (Clonaslee-St Manman’s)
Laois’s all-time highest scorer and 19th on the list of players in the country. Played the latter part of his career in goals for Clonaslee when his knee gave way. Has recently taken up refereeing.
Lar Mahon (Rathdowney-Errill)
Has hurled for his native Rathdowney-Errill for a long time. Lined out at full back in the recent Intermediate final and just edges out Shane Dollard and Pat Mahon for this spot.
Paul Cuddy (Castletown)
Another man who was found of a knee brace. Hurled with distinction for Laois and is still hurling for his native Castletown. Not a man you’d fancy running into – even now.
Seamus Holland (Trumera)
Trumera could almost have picked a full team on their own. The likes of Joey Coogan, Paul McSpadden and any of the O’Connors are all tough as nails. But it is the recently retired Seamus Holland who gets the nod.
Enda Norton (Clonad)
The Clonad selection came down between this man and Simon Norton. Simon once shot to national fame after he broke his hand in a match against Camross but strapped the hurl to his broken hand and played on. But Simon made the football list so we’ve gone with Enda here. Returned to the game this year after a number of years away and drove his side to the semi-final where they lost out to eventual winners Trumera after a replay. A colossus of a man.
Eddie Dwyer (Ballinakill)
Older brother of senior star Cha, Eddie has been a Ballinakill stalwart. A really big combative unit who is very skillful too.
Brian Guilfoyle (Shanahoe)
A lively defender who, as the above picture shows, took no prisoners on the pitch. Edges out Francis Jacob for the spot who was also another enforcer for Shanahoe.
Brian Stapleton (Borris-Kilcotton)
Butch mightn’t be the biggest fellow in the world, but by god is he tough. Represented Laois with distinction for years and now hurls like a demon for Borris-Kilcotton. Has taken up football management alongside Chris Conway in Knockbeg in recent years.
Michael McEvoy (Clough-Ballacolla)
This Timahoe NS teacher has been a rock at the heart of the Clough-Ballacolla defence for a long time. Absolutely no forward in Laois likes to come up against him.
Cahir Healy (Portlaoise)
There was outrage at the lack of a Portlaoise presence on the hardy footballers list and probably rightly so. But if there was an award for the hardies GAA player in Ireland, Cahir Healy would probably win. An absolute warrior.
Jimmy Farrell (Colt)
A monster of a man who hurled for Colt up until recently. Well over 6 foot tall and brilliant in the air. Equally as effective on the ground also.
Conor Dunne (The Harps)
Is one of the elder statesmen at The Harps now having hurled for well over a decade now at this stage. Still holding the half back line together and loves a hard tackle.
John Joe McHugh (Ballyfin)
A simply briliantly skillful hurler who, like James Young above, has ended up in goals after years spent outfield causing havoc. Was in goals on the Ballyfin team who won the senior A hurling championship this year.
PJ Peacock (Abbeyleix)
A warrior for Abbeyleix who played alongside both of his sons, Ryan and Dane, at senior level. Could probably still do a job now if called upon.
Dan Russell (Mountrath)
Dan the man Russell was one of the last men to wear a helmet. He’s still hurling away in the full forward line for Mountrath and came to their aid when relegation threatened against Borris-Kilcotton this year.
Brendan Delaney (Park-Ratheniska)
Known as Pulper and like Cahir Healy, there was outrage when he was left out of the footballers list. Father of twins Mark and Kieran, he is now a selector on the Laois senior football team. A real hardy hurler in his day.
Gearóid Walsh (Kyle)
Played in virtually every position for Kyle over the years before eventually ending up in goals. A somewhat common theme.