2019 was another mad busy year on the Laois GAA fields and with almost every championship now settled, we’re now into awards season.
In total there are 17 award winners and each of them are very worthy.
In total 13 clubs are represented – Portlaoise, Camross, The Harps, Courtwood and Rosenallis lead the way with two awards each while O’Dempsey’s, Rathdowney-Errill, Park-Ratheniska-Timahoe, Colt, Borris-In-Ossory, Crettyard and Park-Ratheniska all have winners.
The Laois GAA Awards Night will take place on Friday November 29 in the Midlands Park Hotel.
The evening will also see the Laois hurling team who won the Joe McDonagh Cup receive their medals.
The awards were picked last week by a committee chaired by Laois GAA PRO Pat O’Sullivan and included representatives from Laois County Board, the hurling and football committees and members of the media.
Check out all the winners below:
Senior Football Player of the Year: Kieran Lillis (Portlaoise)
Kieran Lillis has been a model of consistency for club and county for the past two years.
He was in fine form again for Portlaoise this year and his performances in the narrow semi final wins over Portarlington and Killeshin were crucial for his team.
Intermediate Football Player of the Year: Ruaidhri C-Fennell (Rosenallis)
Rosenallis are the story of 2019 with their success in hurling and football – and a number of their players could have won this award.
The selectors have gone for Ruaidhri C-Fennell and he is a very worthy winner. His leadership at the back was very important for his side in both codes.
Junior Football Player of the Year: Eoin Finlay (O’Dempsey’s)
O’Dempsey’s were touched off in the Junior final in 2018 but they were too good for everyone this year and the regrading of this player was a big reason for that.
Eoin Finlay dropped down from the senior ranks this year and he scored very highly in all their games – including the final where he got man of the match.
Minor Football Player of the Year: Paul O’Flynn (Courtwood)
Emo-Courtwood sunned Ballyroan-Abbey to capture the minor title last month with players like Tom Fennelly, Paddy Hosey, Nathan Little and Sam Krebs hitting top form.
But Paul O’Flynn, younger brother of Laois footballer Sean, gets the nod here for a string of fine performances – including the final where he scored 1-4 from play.
Senior Hurling Player of the Year: John Purcell (Rathdowney-Errill)
Rathdowney-Errill ended their five year championship drought last month when they defeated Borris-Kilcotton to claim glory.
With county men like Ross King, Paddy Purcell, Mark Kavanagh, Eric Killeen and Jack Kelly in their ranks – the award here goes to one of their older talents, John Purcell. He was outstanding all year and was excellent again at the weekend as Rathdowney-Errill thrashed St Rynaghs.
Senior ‘A’ Hurling Player of the Year: Fiachra C-Fennell (Rosenallis)
Fiachra C-Fennell could just as easily have won the Intermediate football award but he will join his brother Ruaidhri as a winner when he picks up the Senior A award.
A rampaging wing back with serious pace, Fiachra always seems to pop up with a score.
Intermediate Hurling Player of the Year: Malvin Moloney (Camross)
Like O’Dempsey’s above in the Junior, Camross were also touched off in the 2018 edition of this competition but some regradings made their team far stronger this year.
Veteran Malvin Moloney was a stalwart in the two-in-a-row winning Camross sides and he was rock solid at full back for his team as they won this title in September.
Junior Hurling Player of the Year: Robbie Foyle (Park-Ratheniksa-Timahoe)
Robbie Foyle lit up the early rounds of the Junior ‘A’ hurling championship before injury forced him out of the semi final win over Portlaoise.
He returned for the final win over The Harps and while not firing on all cylinders, he popped up with some important scores as his side claimed a historic first ever title since their amalgamation.
Minor Hurling Player of the Year: Ciaran Burke (The Harps)
A proper dual player, Ciaran Burke was immense for The Harps who stunned Abbeyleix Gaels to win the Minor ‘A’ hurling championship.
Hurling at centre back, the Crettyard native was rock-solid throughout and really shone in the final where he hit three points and won every ball that dropped around the half back line.
Referee: Padraig Dunne (Colt)
A real breakthrough year for Colt man Padraig Dunne who refereed his first adult final at the Senior A grade as Rosenallis defeated The Harps.
At a time of referee crisis in Laois, it is heartening to see new referees emerging and Padraig is one of the good ones.
Hall of Fame: John Taylor (Portlaoise)
John Taylor is widely regarded as one of Laois’s greatest ever hurlers and won eight Laois Senior Hurling Championship medals with his club, Portlaoise.
He was named at wing back on the Team of the Millennium and since retiring from the game, he has managed a number of clubs in Laois along with being involved in the county. A worthy recipient.
Camogie Player of the Year: Claire Fitzgerald (Camross)
After last year’s county final heartbreak, Camross returned to claim the intermediate title in some style this year against St Brigid’s.
Midfielder Claire Fitzpatrick was a real leader for side this year and was in top form again at the weekend as they advanced to the Leinster final with a one point win over Johnstownbridge.
Laois Ladies County Player of the Year: Anna Healy (Park-Ratheniska)
Laois Ladies co-captain Anna Healy has been named Player of the Year. The 22-year-old from Park-Ratheniska was part of a Laois side that endured a difficult year as the Ladies lost almost every game.
However, they won the one that mattered most when they defeated Limerick to stave off relegation to Junior and Healy was instrumental in that win with a really strong performance.
Scor: Padraig Dunne (Courtwood)
Padraig is a solo singer who reached the Leinster final last year. He is a former Courtwood player from a big GAA family. His late dad Paddy won All-Ireland junior in ’73, uncle Tommy played in ’68 Leinster SFC final and uncle Martin also played senior with Laois in league.
The Paddy Dunne Cup named after his dad. Padraig’s mam Clare is one of the famous Fennell hurling family of Clonad.
Rounders Person of the Year: Pat Barnaville (The Harps)
A keen handball player, Pat Barnaville from Cullahill has dedicated a large portion of his life to Rounders.
A referee for Rounders Ireland, Pat is heavily involved in the sport in The Harps. He was part of the coaching team that managed their U-13s girls to Feile success in their first ever year to compete.
Handball Person of the Year: Joe Brennan (Crettyard)
Laois GAA referee Joe Brennan made headlines early in 2019 as the Crettyard man claimed an All-Ireland title.
The Monavea Handball Club won the Men’s Emerald Master B All-Ireland Final in Kingscourt in Cavan – a tremendous achievement and he has been rightly recognised here.
Dedication to GAA Award: Joe Dooley (Borris-In-Ossory)
Anyone who has ever been in O’Moore Park will have encountered the absolute gentleman that is Joe Dooley from Borris-In-Ossory.
Head steward in O’Moore Park for years, Joe now mans the main gate at the entrance. A formed player with Borris-In-Ossory, Joe is a dedicated club man and is a very worthy recipient of this award for all his years of volunteerism.