To look back on a truly memorable season, we choose our own senior football Team of the Year.
This year we had The Town triumping with seven spots on the team, and we look forward to seeing if this can be matched next year.
The SFC came to a conclusion two weeks ago as Portlaoise defeated O’Dempsey’s to defend the Jack Delaney cup.
The Town have now won 11 of the last 12 Laois championships and their grip on football in the county shows no signs of relenting.
They lead the way on our Team of the Year with seven spots while defeated finalists O’Dempsey’s have four.
In total, five of the sixteen clubs who competed have representation on the team.
There are players like Ross Munnelly, Aaron Forbes, Colm Begley, Evan Lowry, Jody Dillon, Danny Bolger, Peter O’Leary, Kevin Meaney, Gareth Dillon and Kevin Ryan who can consider themselves unlucky to miss out – but we could only pick 15.
Check it out below:
1 – Graham Brody (Portlaoise)
This came down to a decision between Brody and Graiguecullen keeper Danny Bolger. An the All-Star nominee shades it for his brilliant save in the final with Matthew Finlay.
Being the Portlaoise keeper means Brody invariably has very little to do but when he was needed early in the first half, he came up with the goods.
2 – Gary Saunders (Portlaoise)
Saunders made our Team of the Week selections more often than not and is fully deserving of his place here.
Solid as rock in the full back line – it is hard to believe he is just out of minor. A really promising player with a big future with Portlaoise and Laois.
3 – David Seale (Portlaoise)
David Seale lost his place in the team last year through injury but came back for the Leinster defeat against Moorefield where he held Eanna O’Connor very well despite the loss.
However, he nailed down the full back jersey this year and like Saunders beside him, barely put a foot wrong.
4 – Adam Campion (St Joseph’s)
Adam Campion is a player with a lot of potential and it is a bit of a mystery how he has never really got a chance with Laois.
He has incredible pace and is a really sticky corner back. Has carried that form into the Laois Divisional competition for the East Central too.
5 – Robbie Kehoe (O’Dempsey’s)
Robbie Kehoe had a brilliant year for O’Dempsey’s and was one of the main men behind their push to their first final in decades.
A combative wing back who’s direct running style can unlock defences. Would certainly have something to offer to Laois if he committed.
6 – Mark Timmons (Graiguecullen)
There really is no other player in Laois as versatile as Mark Timmons. Throughout different stages of the championship, he operated at full back, centre back and in the forwards.
He scored freely too and Laois manager John Sugrue will be delighted that he is back for another year of inter-county football too.
7 – Marty Scully (Ballyroan-Abbey)
A forward for much of his career, Marty Scully has transformed himself into a powerful and tough-tackling wing back this year.
The only Ballyroan-Abbey representative on the team was heavily involved in the two titanic tussles his side played out with Arles-Kilcruise and really stood out.
8 – Kieran Lillis (Portlaoise)
Kieran Lillis had a brilliant year for Laois and he carried that form into the club championship with Portlaoise where he ruled the skies.
He dominated whatever midfield pairing he encountered throughout and if he can remain injury free, he will only continue to get better.
9 – Barry Kelly (O’Dempsey’s)
Barry Kelly last played for Laois as an U-21 six years ago but his displays this year have shown he is certainly worth a shot with the seniors now.
He has incredible pace and an ability to carry the ball which he displayed time and time again throughout O’Dempsey’s run to the final.
10 – Brian Byrne (Graiguecullen)
A Laois U-21 last year, Brian Byrne is improving all the time. And in a Graiguecullen forward line without the likes of Ian Fleming, Ambrose Doran, Daniel O’Reilly and Barry Brennan – he carried the can for most of the year.
An extremely intelligent player who can score and has blistering pace. Certainly looks capable of stepping up to the Laois senior team now.
11 – Conor Boyle (Portlaoise)
Conor Boyle oozes class and quality. He has a wand of a left foot and uses it to devastating effect for Portlaoise.
He was chosen as Player of the Year recently and is very much deserving of the accolade for his level of consistent performances this term.
12 – Mark Barry (O’Dempsey’s)
Like the aforementioned Saunders, Mark Barry is another player who recently graduated to the adult ranks – and what a first year he enjoyed.
Barry was part of the O’Dempsey’s team that completed back-to-back league titles and consistently stood out with brilliant scores and assists on the way to the final. A real prospect.
13 – Craig Rogers (Portlaoise)
There were many stories that came out of Portlaoise’s season but one of them was the resurgence of Craig Rogers.
After being regraded to intermediate last year, it looked like his days as a senior footballer for the Town were over. But Rogers came back with a renewed enthusiasm this year and routinely showed the quality that he possesses.
14 – Ricky Maher (Portlaoise)
Ricky Maher is the ultimate example of someone persevering for years and finally getting what he wanted.
The forward spent almost a decade trying to break into the Portlaoise senior football team and when he got his opportunity this year – he nailed it. He scored two goals in the final and was deservedly named man of the match.
15 – Matthew Finlay (O’Dempsey’s)
Matthew ‘Hatch’ Finlay finished the year as the highest scorer in the Laois SFC and was most certainly O’Dempsey’s best player.
His free-taking ability and his habit of popping up with goals were all very important for his side. He will surely get a chance with Laois off the back of it.