There’s any amount of talented young Laois people making strides in various fields and we’ve picked out 20 of them to keep an eye on in 2020.
We’ve been observing a few different categories throughout the year and we think these people are going to make great strides in 2020.
Check them out below:
Gaelic Football – Rob Tyrell
Rob is a promising player in both codes but this season he is a promising member of Mike Quirk’s Laois squad. He picked up a hurling intermediate medal with Camross this year.
We think he’s going to have a strong 2020 season and will definitely be one to watch out for.
Hurling – Eoin Gaughan
Eoin was a member of the Joe McDonagh winning team last year under Eddie Brennan and picked up the U-20 Hurler of the Year at the Laois GAA Awards in November.
He played a huge role in Camross’ win over Raheen Parish Gaels in the U-20 Championship final scoring 0-9. We look forward to seeing what he’s got up his sleeve in the coming year.
Soccer – Colin Conroy
What a player. He’s had a brilliant 2019. Portlaoise man, Colin Conroy, is part of the Republic of Ireland U-17 squad this year.
They won the qualifying phase earlier in the year beating Israel, Montenegro and Andorra which put them through to the elite qualifying phase for the U-17 European Championships that will be held in March.
They’ve a big year ahead wand if they come through that, they will qualify for the Euros.
Swimming – Nicole Turner
It’s all eye on the 2020 Olympics for Portarlington’s, Nicole Turner. She recently took a year out of school to focus on her training and has her heart set on getting to Tokyo and coming home with a medal around her neck.
We’ve no doubt she has a strong year ahead.
Women’s Basketball – Ciara Byrne
It will be hard to top the 2019 that Ciara Byrne has had but she is showing no signs of stopping.
She has played all three disciplines in school in all age groups from first year to senior and was part of the was part of Ireland’s national U16 squad that competed in the European championships in 2018 and Ireland U18 squad as well as both U-18 and Senior National League with Portlaoise Panthers.
She is a pleasure to watch on the court.
Men’s Basketball – Rian O’Connell
Portlaoise CBS student Rian O’Connell is making serious waves in the basketball world with his club Portlaoise Panthers and his school.
We reckon the teenager will have a great 2020 and will be a crucial part of the CBS team who will contest for the All-Ireland this year.
Boxing – Michael Nevin
With the Olympics around the corner, Michael Nevin will be hoping to book his spot on the plane to Tokyo to contest a medal.
He had a good year in 2019 but was unlucky to bow out of the European Championships when he was beaten by Russian Gleb Bakashi. We’ve no doubt he’ll bounce back and will be one to watch over the next few months.
Camogie – Molly O’Connor
Hailing from the Harps, Molly is a seriously promising young camogie player. This year she was a member of the All Ireland winning Laois minor camogie team and will be hoping to nail own a position for the coming year.
She’ll go up the grades this year but for a player compared to Kilkenny’s Tommy Walsh in style, she should make a huge contribution for club and county.
Ladies football – Ciara Crowley
Younger sister of Niamh, Ciara Crowley is a very promising footballer who already has an adult championship medal in her back pocket.
She was on the St Paul’s team that moved up to the senior grade in 2019 and she will be hoping to help them to stay there in 2020.
Ladies Rugby – Grace Miller
Younger sister of Alison, Grace Miller’s rugby rise through the game has been nothing short of remarkable in the past 12 months.
Grace, who players with Old Belvadere, only made her Leinster debut at the start of July and we are predicting she will make her Six Nations debut this Spring.
Mens Rugby – Mikey Doran
The young Camross man began playing rugby with Portlaoise before moving to famed Limerick club Young Munster before last season.
He has played with the club’s U-20 side this season as well as making a number of appearances at prop for the firsts in Division 1A of the All Ireland League. He started in the recent Limerick Charity Cup final where they were defeated by Old Crescent but should see plenty of game time in 2020 as they seek to reach the playoffs and stay out of relegation bother.
Athletics – Cian Kelly
At the end of 2019, Cian Kelly joined a prestigious list of athletes as he added the Senior Men’s Cross Country title to the Junior one that he won as a juvenile.
And in the early part of 2020, he will turn his attentions back to the track where the keen 1,500m runner will look to make his mark.
GAA Official – Ger Slevin
The O’Dempsey’s/Clough-Ballacolla man gets the nod here ahead of other newcomers Alan Langton, Paul Dargan and Richie Kennedy.
Slevin is Laois GAA’s new Development Officer and he will have a very hands-on interaction with the clubs in the county as he will be assisting them with many things including grant applications.
Referee – Tommy Tynan
Every year we hear about the crisis in refereeing as the GAA simply can neither attract new referees or retain existing ones.
However, one man who joined in 2019 was Clonaslee’s Tommy Tynan. He impressed in a number of juvenile games throughout the year and looks more than capable of stepping up to adult level in 2020.
Actor – Ryan Burke
You might recognize this Ballybrittas man from your TV screens.
He was a star of Darklands which aired on Virgin Media One back in October. It will be interesting to see if he takes on any big role in the coming year!
Not only that – he was corner back for the Emo-Courtwood side that beat Ballyroan in the Minor Championship final this year. A bit of an all-rounder is Ryan.
Make-up Artist – Emma Lawlor
Not only is Emma a talented footballer but she’s now very popular as a great make-up artist. She has built a great profile online showing all the looks she creates for nights out, bridal parties, festivals, you name it.
She has a flare for make-up and with the Instagram world used as a great tool to get your name out there as a ‘MUA’, we can see her having a great year with a massive reach and following.
Influencer – Murt Norton
Everyone knows Murt Norton of Clonad. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, you’ll know him as the lad that was duped by a clever man in Kilkenny who pretended to be Richie Power and gained himself a few rounds of drink out of the pocket of adoring fan.
His old Twitter account which detailed that tale got deleted so we coudn’t recreate it in our Tweets of the Year. However, he subsequently went back on the platform where he continues to give us entertaining tidbits from his life.
Music – Seorsia Jack (Sia Babez)
This is quite an obvious one. This Portlaoise woman has been a star on ‘X Factor: The Band’ in the last few weeks and her career is looking extremely promising.
Seorsia has worked hard in recent times to make her dream a reality and was signed by a management company as well as releasing her own music video during the year. It looks as though the only way is up for her and her new band Real Like You.
Author – Helen Cullen
Following on from the successful ‘Lost Letters of William Woolf’ in 2018, Portlaoise author Helen Cullen will release her second book this summer.
‘The Truth Must Dazzle Gradually’, which will be out in May, is about a family living on an island off the west coast of Ireland who are left shattered by tragedy. It sounds like a compelling read from the author who was shortlisted for Newcomer of the Year at the Irish Book Awards in 2018.
Politics – Pippa Hackett
Last May, Pippa Hackett was elected as county councillor in Offaly for the Edenderry Municipal District for the Green Party and a couple of months later, she was elected to the Senate.
Now Pippa is going for the Dáil and is hoping that the wave of support for the Green Party will see her elected in the re-formed Laois-Offaly constituency and launched her campaign just before Christmas.