Laois GAA are now on the lookout for three inter-county football managers following an announcement by U-20 boss Billy O’Loughlin that he has stepped down after two years in the role.
O’Loughlin guided Laois to the Leinster U-20 final this year, the first time that Laois had appeared in the decider at this grade in 10 years.
They were beaten by Dublin in the final but it was an encouraging campaign that saw them knock out All Ireland champions Kildare as well as Westmeath and Meath.
“It is with great regret that I am stepping away from my role as the Laois U-20 manager,” he told LaoisToday.
“It has been my pleasure to work with these incredibly talented young Laois footballers for the past two years.
“I’m sure many of them will go on to represent Laois at senior level. There is an abundance of talent in Laois and the future is bright.
“Punishing talented players in small counties like Laois is wholly unfair on both, the panel and the player himself and it needs to be rectified by the GAA.
“Most importantly I would like to thank the players for their unwavering commitment and hard work which resulted in our first Leinster final appearance at this grade in 10 years.
“Also a special mention of thanks to the management and volunteers who have contributed greatly to the development of these talented players.”
O’Loughlin, who is originally from the Arles-Killeen club but now plays with St Loman’s in Westmeath, is from a family steeped in Laois GAA.
His father Declan is a former Laois player and was a selector under Mick O’Dwyer from 2003 to 2006. Billy’s late uncle Tom was a former Chairman of the Laois Football Board while his cousin John is a current Laois senior player.
Billy first cut his teeth in the managerial game with the DIT colleges Freshers team and was later a selector on their Sigerson Cup-winning side and manager for the last couple of seasons.
With O’Loughlin gone from the U-20 role, it leaves Laois GAA officials looking for managers for their three main football teams.
John Sugrue stepped down as senior manager in July and the process to find a replacement is still ongoing while Donncha Phelan also finished up after two years in charge of the minors.
Laois are also searching for an U-20 hurling manager following the decision of David Cuddy to step down while there is also an ongoing saga surrounding the minor job which Enda Lyons has been in for the last couple of seasons and a potential role for former Waterford manager Derek McGrath.
Liam Dunne from Clough-Ballacolla is in for the minor job – but there has been no appointment or announcement from Laois County Board.