The Knockbeg Army will be out in full force this afternoon as they will go for the All-Ireland U-16 ‘A’ football championship glory.
The Paul McGirr Cup final will take place in Kinnegad at 2pm and standing in their way are the Ulster champions – St Colman’s College Newry.
This Knockbeg team are coached by Laois senior football captain Stephen Attride and his fellow teacher, Athy’s Conor Ronan.
Knockbeg’s journey to this stage began last year when they were put in a tough group which comprised of Wexford duo St Peter’s and Good Counsel.
The year started off on a low point with the away trip to St. Peter’s. Knockbeg went into the game with high expectations for the year but a good display from a well drilled St. Peter’s saw them prevail by 3-6 to 0-6.
Knockbeg had to regather themselves after the disappointing loss as another tough task was on the horizon with the visit of Good Counsel College. This time the team performance was far better, and they beat Good Counsel comfortably. The score finished 6-10 to 1-8.
The group of three was finely balanced as all teams had one win and one loss but due to points difference St. Peter’s topped the group, Knockbeg finished second and Good Counsel third.
St Peter’s progressed straight through to a semi final while Knockbeg and Good Counsel had to play quarter finals.
Knockbeg drew Naas CBS in the Quarter Final and a fine first half display saw them run out 5-18 to 3-11 winners.
Newbridge were next up for Knockbeg where a Bryan McMahon hat-trick helped them to a 6-9 to 3-7 win.
That set up a South-Leinster showdown with the side who had beaten them in Round 1 – St Peter’s of Wexford.
But this time Knockbeg were different and they built up a first half lead thanks to an Oisin Byrne goal and won by 1-14 to 0-7 in the end to be crowned champions.
Knockbeg were in bonus territory now but they weren’t content with just showing up as they faced Dublin champions Colasite Eoin.
Following a topsy-turvy affair in Blessington, Knockbeg came back from behind on more than one occasion to see off their opponents.
A late Colin Dunne point forced extra time where Knockbeg went on to win 5-14 to 2-14 in the end.
Knockbeg had just a week to recover for the Leinster final which pitted them against Martist of Athlone in the LOETB Centre of Excellence in Portlaoise.
This game itself was an incredible affair. It swung from one way to the other with Martist leading early on before Knockbeg went nine points ahead at the start of the second half.
The Athlone men came back though and narrowed the deficit to one but Knockbeg stood firm through seven minutes of injury time to win – 3-10 to 4-6.
Up next for Knockbeg were Munster champions Killorglin of Kerry in University of Limerick two weeks ago.
St Joseph’s Ian Shanahan proved the match winner on the occasion as his second half goal helped Knockbeg to a 1-15 to 2-8 victory.
The Knockbeg team contains players for Carlow and Kildare but the majority come from Laois.
Killeshin, St Joseph’s, Ballylinan, Crettyard, Arles-Killeen, Graiguecullen, Barrowhouse, Annanough and Arles-Kilcruise all have players on the panel.
We’ll have a Live Blog of today’s game while you can also follow David McDonald’s updates on our LaoisToday Snapchat account.
Best of luck to the lads this afternoon!
PATH TO THE FINAL
SL R1: Knockbeg 0-6 St Peter’s 3-6
SL R2: Knockbeg 6-10 Good Counsel 1-8
SL QF: Knockbeg 5-18 Naas 3-11
SL SF: Knockbeg 6-9 Newbridge 3-7
SL Final: Knockbeg 1-14 St Peter’s 0-7
L SF: Knockbeg 5-14 Colaiste Eoin 2-14 (AET)
L Final: Knockbeg 3-10 Martist Athlone 4-6
All-Ire SF: Knockbeg 1-15 Killorglin 2-8
All-Ire Final: Knockbeg v St Colman’s College Newry
KNCOKBEG PANEL: Seán Dollard (Killeshin); Jamie Kelly (St Joseph’s), Orrie Doran (Killeshin); Brendan McDonald (Killeshin), Tomás Byrne (St. Joseph’s), Shane Buggy (Éire Óg), Jesse McEvoy (Ballylinan), Ciarán Burke (Crettyard); Ian Shanahan (St. Joseph’s); Oisín Hooney (St. Joseph’s), Colin Dunne (Arles-Killeen), Oisín Doyle (Clonmore), Bryan McMahon (Palatine), Oisín Byrne (Arles-Killeen), Fionn Bergin (Grangenolvin) Lee Byrne
(Graiguecullen), Dáire Brophy (Tinryland), Adam Fennelly (Tinryland), T.J. Burke (Barrowhouse), Ben Crotty (Éire Óg), Michael Hosey (Tinryland), Conall Bergin (Grangenolvin), Oisín Nolan (Castledermot), Brian O’Sullivan (Crettyard), Oisín O’Reilly (Graiguecullen), Kevin Lambe (Arles-Killeen), Rory Lawlor (Annanough), Joseph Morrin (St. Josephs), Darragh Murphy (Arles-Kilcruise), Seán Tuomey (Na Fianna Óg), Micheál Downey (Ballylinan), Karl O’Hara (Palatine), Lee Shannon (Palatine), Jake Dore (St. Patricks), Adam Deay (Clonmore), Michael Wall (Arles-Killeen)