The GAA All-Star hurling nomination list has been announced – and two Laois men have made the cut.
Abbeyleix and Laois keeper Enda Rowland has received a nomination for the Number 1 spot on the 2019 team.
While Rathdowney-Errill defender Jack Kelly has also picked up a nomination for one of the places in the backline.
The Laois pair put in a number of fine displays this year and received acclaim from all over the country.
Rowland faces stiff competition for the number 1 jersey as he is up against All-Ireland winning Tipperary goalkeeper Brian Hogan and defeated finalist stopped Eoin Murphy of Kilkenny.
As for Kelly, he is one of 18 defenders nominated for the six available slots.
Laois began the year in Division 1B of the league and in the Joe McDonagh Cup but ended it with a championship title and a first All-Ireland quarter final appearance in 40 years.
They were the story of the GAA summer for 2019 and the performances of the two nominees were extremely impressive.
After heavy opening defeats to Galway and Waterford, Laois defeated Offaly and then drew with Carlow in Division 1B.
They lost their last group game to Dublin by two points but had done enough to finish fourth a set up a quarter final with then reigning All-Ireland champions Limerick.
The Treaty ended Laois’s league campaign but their Joe McDonagh journey was all about winning.
Offaly, Antrim, Kerry and Westmeath were all beaten in the group phase before they one again triumphed against Westmeath to claim championship glory.
But not content with that, Laois went into an All-Ireland Qualifier a week later against Dublin – who had earlier knocked 2018 beaten All-Ireland finalists Galway out of the championship.
In a dramatic encounter in O’Moore Park, Laois came out on top with the aforementioned Rowland making a stunning save late in the second half.
After that, it was back to Croke Park where eventual All-Ireland champions Tipperary stood in Laois’s way in the All-Ireland Quarter Final.
Laois battled well but the harsh dismissal of Aaron Dunphy early in the second half killed any chance they had of causing another upset.
Despite the loss, Jack Kelly was named man of the match in that game with his point scoring from distance, a feature of his game all year, evident once again.
If either of the pair win, they will become the first Laois man to be given a hurling All-Star since 1985.
Portlaoise’s Pat Critchley was named at midfield on the team that year after Laois had reached the Leinster final where they were defeated by Offaly – he remains Laois’s only hurling All-Star to date.
Indeed, hurling All-Star nominations have been few and far between for Laois with only the likes of PJ Cuddy (Camross), John Taylor (Portlaoise) and Martin Brophy (The Harps) having received them in the past.
This is Laois’s first nomination since 2006 and 2007 when Clonaslee’s James Young was twice nominated for the award.
The All-Stars will be announced at a ceremony in November.
Best of luck lads!!
2019 ALL STAR NOMINEES
Goalkeepers: Eoin Murphy (Kilkenny), Enda Rowland (Laois), Brian Hogan (Tipperary)
Defenders: Chris Crummey (Dublin), Eoghan O’Donnell (Dublin), Paddy Deegan (Kilkenny), Pádraig Walsh (Kilkenny), Huw Lawlor (Kilkenny), Conor Fogarty (Kilkenny), Jack Kelly (Laois), Seán Finn (Limerick), Mike Casey (Limerick), Richie English (Limerick), Pádraic Maher (Tipperary), Ronan Maher (Tipperary), Cathal Barrett (Tipperary), Brendan Maher (Tipperary), Barry Heffernan (Tipperary), Matthew O’Hanlon (Wexford), Paudie Foley (Wexford), Liam Ryan (Wexford)
Midfielders: Cathal Mannion (Galway), Cian Lynch (Limerick), William O’Donoghue (Limerick), Noel McGrath (Tipperary), Diarmuid O’Keeffe (Wexford), Kevin Foley (Wexford)
Forwards: Alan Cadogan (Cork), Patrick Horgan (Cork), Conor Whelan (Galway), TJ Reid (Kilkenny), Adrian Mullen (Kilkenny), John Donnelly (Kilkenny), Colin Fennelly (Kilkenny), Kyle Hayes (Limerick), Peter Casey (Limerick), Aaron Gillane (Limerick), Graeme Mulcahy (Limerick), John O’Dwyer (Tipperary), Jason Forde (Tipperary), Séamus Callanan (Tipperary), John McGrath (Tipperary), Rory O’Connor (Wexford), Lee Chin (Wexford), Conor McDonald (Wexford)
Player of the Year Nominees: Patrick Horgan (Cork), TJ Reid (Kilkenny), Séamus Callanan (Tipperary)
Young Player of the Year Nominees: Adrian Mullen (Kilkenny), Kyle Hayes (Limerick), Rory O’Connor (Wexford)