The second ever Laois Divisional football competition came to an end on Saturday night in Stradbally.
The county was split up into four conferences and manager Mike Quirke has said he will be using it as a part of a guide to forming a panel for the 2019 season.
A mix of current county players and potential panelists came together to form the North, South, East and West.
All of the proceeds made from the games were donated to the Cuisle Cancer Support Centre.
Players from almost every club in the county took part with the exception of Portlaoise who are preparing to compete in their Leinster club championship campaign this weekend.
As for the games themselves, the men from the West, who lost every single game last year, were unquestionable the best team this time around.
They defeated all three of the other teams and absolutely walloped The South, who finished bottom, in the final game.
The North finished runners up this time while last year’s winners, the East, came third.
Well over 100 players took part in the games and we have picked out 23 of them that we were really impressed by.
We have excluded all the players who were part (even for a small time) of the Laois panel in 2019 so this list is of lads we reckon could force their way into the squad for the 2020 season.
Check it out below:
Jack Owens (Clonaslee)
Jack Owens was part of the Laois U-20 panel this year but didn’t make an appearance. However, his three appearances in this competition were all very impressive.
None-more-so than in the final game when he marked Evan O’Carroll and held him really well. A bit of a wild card but he definitely has something worth exploring.
Darragh Connolly (Ballyfin)
Undoubtedly the most impressive player in this year’s championship that did not play for Laois in previous years.
The flying wing back picked up a dead leg in Round 2 and was substituted early but he has done more than enough to be worth a shot with Laois. Some people may say he is too small – but Eoin Murchan is 5ft3 and he has an All-Ireland medal in his back pocket.
James Moore (Ballyfin)
James and younger brother Sean also lit up this year’s championship but James was the only one of the two to appear in this competition.
He played really well in the two opening rounds with his passing from centre forward and his scoring ability equally impressive.
James Finn (Ballyfin)
James Finn’s decision to spend the last two years in the Middle East ruled him out of the Laois set up but his return this year was a big factor in Ballyfin’s success.
Can operate on the half forward line or at midfield and surely has to be included if he is willing to commit.
Rob Tyrrell (Camross)
Big Rob Tyrrell hadn’t played any football for the guts of two months before this competition but he showed his class in the games that he played.
A key figure in the Laois U-20s run to the Leinster final this year, Tyrrell has to be worth a chance with the seniors this time.
Bob Downey (Clonaslee)
Having made substitute appearances in Round 1 and 2, teenager Bob Downey showed how good he is with a very impressive performance in the final game against the South.
Downey is still eligible for U-20 next year and that is most likely where he will end up. A player with real potential.
Niall Corbet (Clonaslee)
From the bright lights of Dalymount Park to O’Moore Park in the space of 12 months? It could very well happen for Niall Corbet.
Laois haven’t had a free-taker of his ability for a number of years and he has shown in these games that he is more than a one-trick-pony too. Certainly worth a chance.
Sean O’Neill (The Rock)
Laois minor captain in 2018, Sean O’Neill’s progression to adult football this year has been steady and he showed well in all three Divisional games.
Eligible for U-20 next year and that is most likely where he will end up.
Jack Priestley (Ballyfin)
Like Niall Corbet, the majority of Jack Priestley’s sporting life has been spent playing soccer as he played for Shamrock Rovers in Dublin for the last number of years.
But he committed to Ballyfin this year and showed well in the majority of the games – form that he carried in here. Eligible for U-20 next year too.
Jack Owens (Emo)
Owens is eligible for the U-20 grade next year once again.
He enjoyed a good year with Emo and played very well in these Divisional games. Is in great physical condition for a young player too.
Barry Kelly (O’Dempsey’s)
Barry Kelly played in these Divisional games last year but didn’t commit to the Laois panel after that.
He has simply blinding pace and a great ability to carry the ball – certainly one that will be an asset if he goes in.
Damien McCaul (Annanough)
McCaul scored freely in all three of the Divisional matches and was very unlucky not to bag a couple of goals in the last game.
The Annanough man is still eligible for U-20 next year and would be a huge addition to that team.
Jake Foster (Portarlington)
Jake Foster may be small in height, but he is extremely powerful with a really good left boot.
Showed very well for Portarlington alongside Colm Murphy in the full forward line and did the same without him in this competition.
Jason Moore (Portarlington)
A very interesting addition to the Divisional Competition this year was Portarlington captain Jason Moore.
The army man has plenty of pace and although he would be a late comer to the inter-county scene if given a chance, he is certainly worth a look.
Cormac O’Hora (O’Dempsey’s)
O’Dempsey’s Cormac O’Hora was an interesting inclusion in this competition this year and he impressed.
Very quick, strong on the ball and a good reader of the game, he is worth looking at as Laois have a lack of depth in defence at present.
Alan Whelan (The Heath)
And just like O’Hora above, the same applies to Alan Whelan who would also be something of a wild card.
But he didn’t look one bit out of place at this level and, as a former sprinter, he has pace to burn.
Garry Comerford (Stradbally)
From the bright lights of Turner’s Cross to O’Moore Park? Just like Niall Corbet, former Cork City player Garry Comerford was a very interesting inclusion in the Divisional Competition.
The Stradbally native, who starred in the 2016 county final win over Portlaoise, looks like he wants to concentrate on GAA this year and if given the chance, he could be very good.
Brian Daly (St Joseph’s)
Laous U-21 captain in 2017, it has never really happened for Brian Daly at senior level since.
But he really took the Divisional Competition by storm – especially in Round 2 against The South where he scored nine points and ruled the skies
Dylan Doyle (St Joseph’s)
Explosive and unpredictable – Dylan Doyle has been knocking around the top end of the club scene for the last couple of years.
He has serious pace and is extremely powerful too – with a real eye for goal.
Diarmuid Whelan (Ballyroan-Abbey)
Captain of the Laois U-20 team this year that reached the Leinster final, Whelan is now set to make the step to senior football.
Serious scoring power, he will add a new dimension to the team in 2020.
Martin Doyle (Graiguecullen)
Doyle is a sticky corner back who has shown he can score as well.
Played really well in this competition last year and is certainly worth a look in 2020.
David Aston (Killeshin)
Killeshin had a brilliant year in their run to a first ever senior final appearance and if more of their players had appeared in this competition, they would have made this list.
But captain David Aston did and he showed well just as he did for the club. Has all the tools to make it at senior level and can operate in a range of positions.