There’s any amount of talented young Laois people making strides in various fields and we’ve picked out 19 of them to keep an eye on in 2019.
Gaelic Football – Mark Barry
Mark Barry has been making waves at juvenile level for a number of years and he translated that form into the adult ranks when he made the step up in 2018.
He has since been drafted into the Laois senior set-up. The O’Dempsey’s forward is eligible to play for the U-20s for the next two years but he may end up leap-frogging that grade like Finbarr Crowley did last year.
Hurling – Aaron Dunphy
It seems like Aaron Dunphy has been around for a long time but he is still only 21.
He played for the Laois seniors under Cheddar Plunkett but did not play for the last two years. He is back now under Eddie Brennan and we expect the Borris-Kilcotton man to become one of the main forwards.
Basketball – Liam Kinsella
The Portlaoise Panthers Men’s team are going through a rebuilding phase at the moment with a number of young players coming through.
One of those who is really shining is Liam Kinsella. The multi-talented teenager from The Heath, is also part of Billy O’Loughlin’s U-20 football squad. He also happens to have one of the coolest hairstyles in Laois.
Camogie – Kirsten Keenan
Kirsten Keenan was part of the Laois U-16 camogie team that won an All-Ireland ‘B’ title in 2017 and she will be hoping to repeat the trick at minor level in 2019.
Keenan made her debut for the Laois senior camogie team last year and will hopefully continue her progress in that sphere next year.
Music – Kean Kavanagh
Laois has a very strong base of musicians and one young man who continues to make great strides is Portlaoise native Kean Kavanagh.
He performed with Kojaque at the Electric Picnic in 2018 and also released his own song ‘Coca Cola Sky’. We expect to see a lot more from him in 2019.
Politics – Veronica Wheatley
There are a number of up and coming Laois women involved in politics at present but we’ve gone for one who is set to contest a big role in 2019.
Veronica Wheatley, from Doonane near Crettyard, is the current Laois county chairperson and a prominent member of East Laois Macra. She will seek nominations to challenge for the position of Leinster vice-president.
Ladies Rugby – Emma Hooban
The end of 2018 saw Laois’s Ladies Rugby Irish Internationals rise from one to two as Emma Hooban played in two Test games at the end of the season.
It was a huge achievement for the Portlaoise hooker. Her next goal will surely be to make the Six Nations squad where she will most likely be joined by Arles winger Alison Miller who has recovered from a horrific leg injury.
Men’s Rugby – Sean Masterson
Injury ravaged much of 2018 for Sean Masterson but we are hoping for much better things for the Ratheniska native this year.
The powerful back-row damaged his shoulder at the end of 2018 but should be back to full fitness this year and ready to push into the Connacht set-up.
Soccer – Kelvin Burke
Soccer is another sport that is on the up in Laois. Garry Comerford (Cork City) and Niall Corbet (Bohemians) are both playing in the League of Ireland while Colin Conroy (Bohemians) captained the Republic of Ireland at U-16 level in 2018.
And we will be monitoring the progress of Kelvin Burke very closely too. The St Aengus youngster signed for St Patrick’s Athletic a few months ago and will feature for them in the U-15 League of Ireland this year.
Athletics – Ava O’Connor
Emo teenager Ava O’Connor is a rising star in the world of athletics.
She ran in the 1,500m at the Tailteann Games in Santry in the summer and took away a silver medal. Her achievement made all the more incredible by the fact she is eligible to run at that grade again this year!
Actor – Micheal Fleming
SwanDive Productions is a company spear-headed by Micheal Fleming of The Swan.
His movie ‘Vegetable’ managed to scoop three awards at the eclectic Underground cinema Short Film festival in 2018 and he also showed he is as good in front of the camera as he is behind it when he starred in the Christmas ad for eir. We certainly look forward to what 2019 has in store for him.
Influencer – Jamie McNamara
We hear all the time about ‘influencers’ now and they really are a thing. Last year, we chose Dylan Brennan in this category and he has now amassed over 36,000 followers on Instagram.
This year we are going for Jamie McNamara from Portlaoise. If you are into fitness and personal training, the UL student is worth following.
Make-Up – Ciara Dooley
Ciara has continued to impress with her makeup artistry throughout the year. Not only did she make our list of top makeup artists but also top Instagrammers for 2018.
Honing her skills at Vanity X Makeup in Dublin, Ciara has set up a makeup studio based in her home. She even worked with us on creating that go-to festival look for the Electric Picnic. The glow Gods are shining brightly on this young Portlaoise woman and we expect more of the same in 2019.
Ladies Football – Sarah Larkin
A young Stradbally woman with a bright future ahead of her. Timahoe Ladies midfielder Sarah Larkin has all the attributes to become something special.
She excelled on the U-16 Laois team which reached the All-Ireland final last year and will be a valuable asset to the minors this year.
Golf – Niall Hearns
Mountrath native Niall Hearns broke records galore in 2018 and we’re tipping him for further success this year.
He equalled the Mountrath Golf course record and also put in a number of fine performances on the national stage. Something we should see more of in 2019.
Swimming – Sean Scannell
Portlaoise teenager Sean Scannell is making serious waves in the water – excuse the pun.
The St Mary’s CBS Leaving Cert student swam at the European Youth Olympics in 2017 and will be aiming for a place on the Ireland team for the World and European Junior Championships in 2019. The qualifiers for these take place in March and Scannell will hope to compete in the 50, 100 and 200 metres.
Hockey – Elva Kerr
Kilkenny College won the school and the South East region’s first Kate Russell All-Ireland Schoolgirls Hockey Championship since 1994 last year.
Young Ballyfin student Elva was on that team and she will be a big part of the team this year that will try to defend it. Elva’s twin brother Luke is also on the school’s rugby team. A dynamic duo.
Boxing – Michael Nevin
Back in February last year, Michael Nevin became the 75kg Middleweight Irish champion after defeating Derry man Brett McGinty.
He went on to compete in the EU Championships in November where his medal hopes were dashed in the quarter final after a facial cut he received in the last 16 win reopened and couldn’t be stopped. But we expect the Portlaoise man to put that behind him and power on in 2019.
Producer – Aisling Calt
Aisling Calt directed ‘Capsule’ by Areaman Productions and filmed an episode of the series in The Store Yard, Kea-Lew Business & Retail Park in Portlaoise – and it is currently on the RTE Player.
The Portlaoise native is really up and coming in this sphere and we’ll be keeping an eye out on her next production in 2019.
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