What a minor football championship we had this year.
Nine teams took part and in the end it came down to Ballyroan-Abbey and Portarlington.
The Ballyroan-Abbey lads won it after a replay in October and ended a long time without this championship.
The Minor Football Championship came to a conclusion last month as Ballyroan-Abbey defeated Portarlington to claim the cup.
It brought to an end a 47-year famine for the club at this level.
The sides drew in the first game exactly a month ago as Ceilum Coughlan-Maher’s late goal for Portarlington meant the sides would have to meet again.
But there would no disputing Ballyroan’s superiority in the replay as they romped to a 2-15 to 0-8 victory.
And they became just the third ever winners of this competition and succeed St Paul’s-The Rock who claimed glory in 2017.
Ballyroan-Abbey lead the way on our Team of the Year with eight spots while defeated finalists Portarlington have four.
A total of five clubs are represented and you can check it out below:
1 – Matt Kelly (Crettyard)
A physically imposing keeper with a huge kick-out.
Kelly is also a tremendous shot-stopper and will be a huge boost to Crettyard next year at adult level.
2 – Mikey Bennett (Portarlington)
Mikey Bennett played in a variety of positions this year for club and county – excelling in them all.
He largely played at midfield for Portarlington but he is an extremely tenacious defender and he exhibited a real man marking ability for Laois this year – hence his selection here.
3 – Fionan Mahony (Ballyroan-Abbey)
A dual player who also represented the Laois minor hurlers this year – and will be eligible for this grade again next year.
He was rock solid for Ballyroan at full back in both of the games against Portarlington and shows natural defensive instincts.
4 – Danny Brennan (Ballyroan-Abbey)
The only man on the list to make both the football and hurling selections for this year.
Like Mahony before him, Danny Brennan is an honest, hard-working defender who never allows his opponent any space.
5 – Rioghan Murphy (Portarlington)
Rioghan actually made our Team of The Week selection after the draw county final, such was the level of performance he put in.
He suffered a bad arm injury in that game but recovered to play in the drawn game. He is a very clever player with serious pace who is eligible for this grade again next year.
6 – Ciaran Byrne (Ballyroan-Abbey)
The Minor Player of the Year for 2018 – and deservedly so.
Ciaran Byrne received a shoulder injury in the drawn game and was only fit to play corner forward – where he went and scored five points in the replay. Another dual player with a really bright future.
7 – Cathal Bennett (Portarlington)
The vice-captain of the Laois minor footballers this year formed a dynamic half back line with Portarlington alongside the aforementioned Murphy and Daragh Galvin.
A great reader of the game and another player who will add something big to Portarlington at adult level next year.
8 – Eamonn Delaney (Stradbally)
Stradbally Parish Gaels lost out to Ballyroan-Abbey in the semi final and Delaney was instrumental in their run to that stage of the competition.
He also enjoyed a great year for the Laois minors and will be eligible for that grade again in 2019.
9 – Adam Dunne (Ballyroan-Abbey)
Another dual player on the list – and a very powerful one at that.
Adam Dunne’s direct running style was crucial for Ballyroan-Abbey in the latter stages of the championship as he carved defences open at will.
10 – Shaun Fitzpatrick (Ballyroan-Abbey)
The only U-15 to make this list and what a prospect he is.
Shaun Fitzpatrick started at corner forward in the drawn final but played further out the field in the replay and made a massive impact. Another exciting young talent.
11 – Enda McWey (Ballyroan-Abbey)
The Ballyroan-Abbey captain was probably quiet by his own high standards in the drawn game but he sparkled into life in the victorious replay.
McWey carries a real scoring threat and will also add something to Ballyroan-Abbey at adult level next year.
12 – Damon Larkin (Portlaoise)
Portlaoise were probably a bit unlucky not to make the championship semi finals but they put that behind them to go and win the shield.
Captain Damon Larkin put in some brilliant performances at club and county level this season and is certainly one to keep an eye out for.
13 – Dylan Cuddy (Ballyroan-Abbey)
Ended the victorious final with a tally of 2-2 after scoring two excellent goals.
Cuddy’s high work-rate is the thing that sets him apart and he git his reward with those crucial scores when it mattered.
14 – Brian Whelan (Ballyroan-Abbey)
Whelan was right up there for man of the match in the final but was just edged out by compatriot Ciaran Byrne.
He was excellent in both games, scoring freely and is eligible at this grade again next year.
15 – Ciaran Ward (Portarlington)
Portarlington’s main scorer in both finals and can consider himself very unlucky to end up on the losing side.
His accuracy from frees was flawless throughout the championship and he is deserving of the final spot on this selection.