The early rounds of the Laois football championships lead to very difficult seletions when it comes to Team of the Week.
20 games across senior, intermediate and junior – 300 players starting, another 50 or so coming on as subs. Only 15 can be included.
This week’s team seems to be particularly tricky – but we’ve settled on a selection, one that sees 12 clubs represented. Portlaoise, St Joseph’s and O’Dempsey’s all have two each while Ballyroan-Abbey, Killeshin, Crettyard Gaels, Courtwood, Rosenallis, Kilcavan, Emo, Stradbally and Graiguecullen all have one apiece.
1 – Danny Bolger (Graiguecullen)
Graiguecullen were well beaten by Portlaoise on Friday night but it could have been an even greater defeat only for the performance of goalkeeper Danny Bolger. He pulled off a couple of great saves and also stroked over two long-range frees. Portarlington’s Scott Osbourne and Killeshin’s Shane Coakley were in the mix too.
2 – Shane Murphy (Emo)
For the second week running, Murphy is included on Team of the Week, this time for an impressive man-marking job on Arles-Kilcruise forward Ross Munnelly.
3 – Sean Mangan (Kilcavan)
Mangan is the only junior player included this week but he has been very impressive in their campaign to date at full-back and even managed to come forward to score 1-1 in their big win over Ballylinan on Tuesday night. A fine player who’d make most teams in the county.
4 – Adam Campion (St Joseph’s)
St Joseph’s put in a very solid performance to beat Portarlington by eight points – and they’ve a very balanced team from 1-15. Campion got on an amount of ball and put in a fine display.
5 – Damien Murphy (Stradbally)
‘Friggy’ rarely has a bad game for Stradbally and can play in almost any position on the field. He scored 1-1 in their comprehensive win over Clonaslee Gaels and got through an amount of work as usual.
6 – Robbie Kehoe (O’Dempsey’s)
O’Dempsey’s hit 4-14 in an impressive 14-point win over Arles-Killeen and a number of their forwards were in the mix for this team too. But Kehoe was very good at centre-back, driving O’Dempsey’s forward and keeping them on the front foot from the start. Did a good job on Sean O’Shea and also got up the field to earn the penalty that set the Killenard men on their way
7 – Barry Kelly (O’Dempsey’s)
Joining Kehoe on the half-back line is his team-mate Barry Kelly. Another player who’d be comfortable in a number of positions he scored two points from play and also played a central role in one of their three first-half goals.
8 – Shaun Murphy (Ballyroan-Abbey)
Ballyroan-Abbey were rampant in the opening half of their win over The Heath on Sunday and Murphy set the tone with a wonderful early point from play. He got on a lot of ball around midfield and kicked one of the scores of the weekend – outside of the left boot from way out on the left wing – in the second half.
9 – Conor Hogan (Courtwood)
‘Hogie’ was midfield for Courtwood’s showdown with Timahoe on Thursday night, but he may have been playing anywhere as he ran continuously up and down the field – whether setting up his forwards or supporting his backs at the other end of the field. Swooped in after a shot from Alan Kinsella hit the post to nicely deliver the ball into the back of the Timahoe net – and set down the marker for the rest of the game.
10 – Craig Rogers (Portlaoise)
Rogers didn’t play in last year’s Laois championship with Portlaoise, instead playing a central role in helping their intermediates to a county final appearance. Was centre-forward for Friday’s win over Graiguecullen and was their main man along with Brian McCormack in the opening half. Scored three excellent points in the first half and added another after the break.
11 – Eoin Lowry (Killeshin)
Killeshin blew Ballylinan off the pitch in the first half of their game on Saturday and nobody was more influential than Lowry. Scored 1-5 from play and was unmarkable in the opening 30 minutes. His brother Evan also chipped in with three from play but it’s Eoin that makes this selection.
12 – Evan O’Carroll (Crettyard Gaels)
O’Carroll played full-forward for Crettyard in their win over Ballyfin Gaels but we move him to Number 12 for the purpose of this selection. Scored 10 of their 14 points and was the focal point of every Crettyard attack as they did enough to win by three.
13 – Mattie Campion (St Joseph’s)
St Joseph’s had great attacking performances from Brian Daly, Michael Keogh and Tom Kelly but Campion was the main man in their win over Portarlington. Scored four points from play – two off each foot – and won an amount of ball from start to finish.
14 – Brian McCormack (Portlaoise)
He might be heading for 38, in his 20th season playing senior with Portlaoise and taken off with 44 minutes gone against Graiguecullen but his contribution was once again huge. Hit 1-6 (1-3 from play), 1-5 of it in a seven-minute spell before half time when Portlaoise ended Graigue’s challenge. A class act.
15 – Donal Lalor (Rosenallis)
Donal Lalor scored seven points in Rosenallis’s win over The Rock, but more importantly he scored everything that was sent in to him on the full-forward line. Lalor’s three points from play and four frees were to be the difference between victory or defeat for Johnny Irwin’s men.