Last night saw the Laois U-20 footballers dethrone the reigning Leinster and All-Ireland football champions Kildare in Newbridge.
Billy O’Loughlin’s men produced a brilliant second half display to come from a point down to win by three and knock Kildare out.
Here is a more in-depth look at how the game panned out:
1 – Man of the Match – Diarmuid Whelan
There were a number of very fine individual displays on the night across all lines on the field. Keeper Matthew Byron nailed every kick-out and also plucked two Kidare shots from over his crossbar.
Full back Seamus Lacey was immense while so too were the corner backs Alex Mohan and Michael Dowling. Dean Brophy had a fine game at wing back while Michael Doran was Laois’s second highest scorer with four points.
But captain fantastic Diarmuid Whelan gets the nod by kicking ten points. He landed six of those in the second half and only four of his total came from placed balls. When Laois needed someone to take the game by the scruff of the neck, the Ballyroan-Abbey man oblidged.
2 – First underage win over Kildare in a decade
Laois had not beaten Kildare in minor or U-21/20 football since 2009 before last night.
The last win over the Lillywhites came ten years ago in the Leinster U-21 football championship semi final when Brian Glynn, James Doyle and Zach Tuohy scored goals in a 3-11 to 0-11 victory.
Kildare were fancied enough at the time but Eddie Kelly’s Laois beat them well before losing to Dublin in Leinster final.
Jim Gavin was Dublin manager and they went on to beat Donegal in All Ireland final.
Since then, Laois have been unable to get the better of their neighbours for a decade but that unwanted record is over.
3 – Impressive shape and system
Laois operated for much of the game with a two-man full forward line of Dan McCormack and Diarmuid Whelan with Alan Kinsella playing slightly deeper in front of them.
Centre forward Michael Doran was given a freer role with Niall Dunne and Ronan Coffey dropping deep while Kildare were in possession and then breaking at pace when Laois won the ball back.
The high ball in to McCormack indirectly yielded the first three points but Kildare put an extra man near him after that which stifled him somewhat. However, his presence helped create space for Whelan which he exploited.
4 – Youthful team
This is an extremely young team with eight of the starting 15 eligible to play next year – and that doesn’t include Sean O’Flynn and Mark Barry who also qualify next season but are prohibited at the moment after playing for the seniors.
Keeper Matthew Byron, defenders Alex Mohan, Michael Dowling, Colin Slevin, Jack Lacey, Dean Brophy and attackers Niall Dunne and Ronan Coffey will all be underage again next year.
Substitutes Jack Owens and PJ Daly will also be available next year so the future certainly looks positive in that regard.
5 – Great spread of clubs
This is a team made up of lads from all over the county too – and not just the traditional football areas either.
Camross and Rosenallis have representatives in midfield while Portlaoise, Ballylinan, Portarlington, St Joseph’s, Courtwood, Killeshin, O’Dempsey’s and Ballyroan-Abbey also have players on the team.
It is great to see and certainly sends out the right message that if you go forward for something you will be given a chance regardless of where you come from.
6 – Defenders who want to defend
It was brilliant to see Laois players playing in their natural positions and really excelling in them.
Alex Mohan, Michael Dowling and Seamus Lacey comprised the Laois full back line and each of them celebrated turning over a Kildare attacker or making a legal tackle as much as a score going in down the other end.
Lads like those three are hard to come by and it will be very important for Laois to ensure they continue their development and eventually graduate on to the senior ranks.
7 – What’s Next?
Laois are now out in the Leinster quarter final away to Westmeath on Tuesday July 2 at 7.30pm.
If they manage to win that, they will host the winners of Offaly and Meath in the semi final a week later.