Brought to you in association with Paddy O’s Cereals
Championship final appearances have been few and far between for Laois hurling teams over the years but as the Laois seniors prepare for Sunday’s Joe McDonagh final in Croke Park against Westmeath, we look back at the Leinster U-21 decider in 2012, when Laois went down to Kilkenny.
It was Laois’s first appearance in the final since they’d gone down narrowly to Kilkenny in 1990 and they were seeking a first title since their only previous success in 1983.
Managed by Tony Doran, Laois reached the final thanks to a 2-15 to 0-17 win over the reigning champions Dublin in the opening round, a win that came just days after Laois had been hammered by Dublin in the Leinster senior championship.
Goals from current senior Neil Foyle and an injury time effort from Castletown’s Brendan Reddin were the crucial scores.
Laois then beat Carlow by 0-15 to 0-14 in the semi-final in Dr Cullen Park, with Stephen ‘Picky’ Maher the top scorer with eight points.
Unfortunately for Laois they ran into a seriously talented Kilkenny side and the 4-24 to 1-13 scoreline in the final in O’Moore Park brought an end to their odyssey.
From the starting 15 of that side seven years ago, Willie Dunphy, Stephen Maher and Neil Foyle will be part of the Laois team this Sunday while subs Cha Dwyer and Ross King – then still minors – were both introduced as subs.
Kilkenny went on to lose that year’s All Ireland final to Clare but a number of their side have since become established senior players.
Indeed their forward line from that final of Kevin Kelly (a former Heywood student), Padraig Walsh, Cillian Buckley, Walter Walsh, John Power and Ger Alwyard shows the quality Kilkenny had to call on.
The Laois team that played in the final was: Eoin Fleming (Borris-Kilcotton); Pakie Flynn (The Harps), Gearoid Burke (Camross), Adrian Phelan (Borris-Kilcotton); Jim Fitzpatrick (Borris-Kilcotton), Bill Duggan (Clough-Ballacolla), Nathan Unwin (Rathdowney-Errill); David Freeman (The Harps), Barry Dunne (The Harps); Willie Dunphy (Clough-Ballacolla), Padraig Lawlor (Ballinakill), Stephen Maher (Clough-Ballacolla); Ben Reddin (Castletown-Slieve Bloom), Neil Foyle (Borris-Kilcotton), Darren King (Rathdowney-Errill). Subs: James Ryan (Rathdowney-Errill) for Lawlor, Cha Dwyer (Ballinakill) for Unwin, Ciaran McEvoy (Portlaoise) for Phelan, Ross King (Rathdowney-Errill) for Reddin, Johnny Finane (Clough-Ballacolla) for Fitzpatrick