Home Sport GAA 15 potential candidates for the vacant Laois football manager’s job

15 potential candidates for the vacant Laois football manager’s job

Who will become the next Laois manager?

Expect this story to run and run. John Sugrue has stepped down as Laois football manager and the search to replace him will get underway in the coming weeks.

Expect many names to be linked to the role.

Here we profile 15 candidates that could be in the mix and we we have split them up into ‘Inside’ and ‘Outside’ contenders.

The inside men are those who are either from Laois or who have managed in Laois.

While the outsiders have no connection to the O’Moore County whatsoever but could potentially be considered.


Billy Sheehan

The Kerry native and former Emo footballer played for Laois from 2005 to 2015 and was widely regarded as one of the team’s leaders.

He has a lot of coaching time built up at schools level and has also been involved with UCD as well as spells with the Laois Ladies and Ballyroan-Abbey over the years.

Sheehan spent time coaching in the Cork senior setup in 2016 and 2017 under Peadar Healy.

He also lost out to Sugrue for this job in 2017 but then became part of the Offaly backroom team under Stephen Wallace in 2018. He now plays for St Jude’s in Dublin and is also coaching Palatine in Carlow.

Padraig Clancy

One of Laois’s most ‘capped’ players, Padraig Clancy retired after the 2013 season having been involved non-stop since making his debut in 2001.

The Timahoe man has since moved into management, spending two years with Ballyroan-Abbey where they gained successive league promotions. He then spent two years over Graiguecullen and reached back-to-back championship semi finals but lost out to Portlaoise and O’Dempsey’s.

Stepped away from there in 2018 and returned as a selector in 2019 with his native Timahoe. Clancy went for the job in 2017 but also lost out to Sugrue.

Billy O’Loughlin 

The former Arles-Killeen footballer has seen his managerial stock rise in recent years – and just a few weeks ago he guided the Laois U-20 footballers to their first Leinster final at the grade since 2007 where they ultimately lost to Dublin.

O’Loughlin has managed DIT in the Sigerson Cup for the last two years and has had a long association with the college before that.

He managed of the college’s Freshers team and he guided them to back-to-back All Ireland titles in 2008 and 2009 with players like Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea, Dublin’s Paul Flynn and Offaly’s Graham Guilfoyle among the well-known names. He later joined the Sigerson Cup management alongside former Galway player Paul Clancy and was a selector and coach when they won an historic first title in 2013.

Eddie Kinsella 

Eddie Kinsella and son Alan Kinsella

Current club managers who could be considered are in short supply but one man who has carved out a decent career for himself so far is Eddie Kinsella.

The former All-Ireland final referee took the reigns of his native club three years ago and got them up to senior for the first time since the early 1990s this year. For any new manager coming in, he wouldn’t be a bad man to have as a selector either.

Gary Kavanagh 

Laois U-21 football manager Gary Kavanagh
Former Laois U-21 football manager Gary Kavanagh

Having retired from club football in 2013, Gary Kavanagh has gone in to management and initially had a spell with Ballylinan in 2016.

He then came into the Laois fold as a selector under Peter Creedon and also managed the Laois U-21s in 2017. Kavanagh has since gone on to manage Gracefield in Offaly where he has spent the last two seasons.

Eoin Kearns and Sean Cotter 

Perhaps this is a bit left-field but two of John Sugrue’s lieutenants could be in contention here.

Ballyroan-Abbey’s Eoin Kearns spent the last two years as a selector for Sugrue while Portlaoise’s Sean Cotter was drafted in this year. If the pair combined, it could make for an interesting partnership.


Rory Gallagher 

Rory Gallagher

The news broke yesterday that Rory Gallagher had stepped down as Fermanagh manager after two years in charge.

The former Donegal player and manager took the reigns in Fermanagh in September 2017 and guided the Erne County to the Ulster final, their first in ten years, and earned promotion from Division 3.

Malachy O’Rourke

Malachy O’Rourke

Malachy O’Rourke was appointed Monaghan football manager in 2012 and spent seven seasons in charge.

His side defeated Laois last year on their way to the All-Ireland semi final where they were just touched off by Tyrone – 1-13 to 0-15. He resigned following their qualifier defeat to Armagh this year.

John Evans 

John Evans

Kerry native John Evans has spent terms in charge of Roscommon, Tipperary and most recently Wicklow – with whom he finished up with last week.

Evans had a two year spell in charge of the Garden County but that has come to an end and he is another one who is also available.

Cian O’Neill

Cian O’Neill

Cian O’Neill’s three year spell in charge of his native county came to an end a couple of weeks ago following defeat to Tyrone in the All-Ireland Qualifiers.

He had previously guided the team to the Super 8s in 2018 and although living in Cork, he was willing to travel up and back – coming to Laois would have him even closer to where he is living.

Luke Dempsey 

Luke Dempsey

This man has certainly been around the block. After spells in charge of Longford, Westmeath and Carlow, Dempsey turned to club management where he has fared well.

He guided Moorefield to club championships in 2013 and 2014 in Kildare before winning three Westmeath titles in a row with St Loman’s from 2015 to 2017.

Peter Canavan 

Peter Canavan and his son Darragh

Tyrone native Canavan was appointed manager of Fermanagh in November 2011 on a three-year term but he stepped down in 2013.

The multiple All-Star winner hasn’t been back on the inter-county scene since and has taken up a punditry role with Sky Sports in the meantime.

Liam Kearns 

Liam Kearns

They say in life you should never go back but a former Laois boss is now available having just departed his latest inter-county role.

Kerry native Liam Kearns managed Laois in 2007 and 2008 before spending the last four seasons in charge of Tipperary with the highlight being a 2016 All-Ireland semi final appearance.

Jack O’Connor 

Kerry manager Jack O’Connor

The current Kerry U-20 football manager has also had two spells in charge of the seniors in the Kingdom and another with the minors.

It is probably unlikely he would go for the Laois job but he would be a serious appointment if he did.

John Divilly 

John Divilly

John Divilly was on the Galway team that won the All-Ireland football championship in 1998 and has gone on to manage college teams.

He was most recently in charge of UCD where he would be very familiar with Laois players like Eoin Lowry, Evan O’Carroll and Finbarr Crowley.

SEE ALSO – Deep sadness as six year old Laois boy passes away

Previous articleLaois natives emerging from around the globe to play in the GAA World Games
Next articlePregnant with quadruplets: Laois mother-to-be reveals shock and excitement ahead of four little arrivals