It wasn’t the busiest week of hurling championship action but there was still a senior relegation final, Junior ‘B’ and Junior ‘C’ finals and a delayed intermediate quarter-final.
From those games we’ve picked our latest Team of the Week – with Castletown Gaels, Ballyfin Gaels, Portlaoise, Kyle, Camross, Clough-Ballacolla and Ballyfin all represented.
1 – Paddy Mullaney (Castletown Gaels)
One of Castletown’s elder statesmen, he pulled off a couple of important saves in the second half of their relegation final win over Ballyfin Gaels and dealt well with the high balls that came his way.
2 – Paul Connolly (Ballyfin)
Ballyfin’s full-back line coped well against Portlaoise in the Laois JHC ‘C’ final given they were under a lot of pressure and Connolly was one of their top performers.
3 – Diarmuid Lalor (Portlaoise)
Lalor actually played centre-back and had a good battle with Sean Lowry. Moved to full-back for the purpose of this selection. Scored an inspirational point in the second half of Portlaoise’s deserved Junior ‘C’ hurling final win.
4 – Evan Cuddy (Castletown Gaels)
While the Castletown defence under a bit of pressure in the second half of their game against Ballyfin, Cuddy cut out a couple of attacks, dealt well with what came his way and also chipped in with a first-half point.
5 – Diarmuid Conway (Clough-Ballacolla)
Another player that is moved slightly position-wise for this team. Was midfield on the Clough-Ballacolla team that beat Clonad in the IHC quarter-final last week and hit 1-3 in a fine performance. Must be edging closer to their senior team all the time.
6 – Donnacha Hartnett (Ballyfin Gaels)
Hartnett was one of the main Ballyfin Gaels men in the second half as they mounted an impressive comeback against Castletown. Scored a massive point to draw the sides level in the 45th minute and was heavily involved through that period.
7 – Paul Maher (Kyle)
Maher was consistent throughout Kyle’s run to Junior ‘B’ glory and impressed again in the final win over Camross. Very good at sending long ball in and was central to setting up a lot of their scores.
8 – Brian Mulligan (Portlaoise)
Mulligan won a senior hurling medal with Portlaoise in 2004 but concentrated more on football in the intervening years as he was an ever-present for the nine-in-a-row success. Has stepped back from the football this year and has turned his attention back to hurling. Put in a fine display at midfield for their Junior ‘C’ final win with his brave block in the opening stages setting the tone for a typically committed performance.
9 – Conor Phelan (Castletown Gaels)
Featured with Laois under Eamonn Kelly over the past two seasons although his involvement was curtailed by serious injury. Moved between midfield and centre-forward against Ballyfin Gaels and was very impressive, scoring three points from play.
10 – Eoin Quinlan (Kyle)
Quinlan controlled the Junior ‘B’ final from centre-forward, winning high ball sent in from his brother Conor and scoring nine of their 15 points. Kept his cool late on when the pressure was on. A fine young player.
11 – Derek Delaney (Portlaoise)
Delaney has represented Portlaoise at senior for years and his experience and know-how was crucial in their junior final win over Ballyfin. Hit a string of good points from play and from frees and always seemed to take the right option.
12 – Brendan Reddin (Castletown Gaels)
Was a complete livewire for Castletown Gaels in their win over Ballyfin Gaels, scoring two good points from play in the first half and also doing brilliant work to set up Ben Conroy for their two goals. Impressive going considering it was his third championship game in five days having played intermediate football for Mountmellick Gaels on Sunday, Junior ‘B’ football for Castletown on Tuesday and then the senior hurling relegation final on Thursday.
13 – David Mortimer (Camross)
Epitomised coolness on the ball for Camross in the Junior ‘B’ final loss to neighbours Kyle. Struck 1-4, including a make-or-break penalty in the second half. Helped keep Camross in the game right up to the final whistle.
14 – Eanna Lyons (Ballyfin Gaels)
Lyons has really developed into a top class player this year and despite being on the losing side in all four championship games with Ballyfin, he showed that he can be a big part of Eddie Brennan’s plans with Laois in 2019. Strong in the air, he also hit a string of very good points from play as Ballyfin Gaels dragged themselves back into the game.
15 – Ben Conroy (Castletown Gaels)
Conroy is another busy man, playing hurling and football for Slieve Bloom, senior football for Ballyfin Gaels and senior hurling for Castletown Gaels. On Thursday he was playing against many of the Ballyfin lads he plays football with. But he scored two great goals in the first half – and 2-3 in total.
Sub of the Week
Ed O’Dwyer (Portlaoise)
O’Dwyer came on for the injured James Brown midway through the second half of Portlaoise Junior ‘C’ final win and pulled off an excellent save just minutes after his introduction