Former Laois senior football manager Mick Lillis has been appointed as the new Ballylinan boss for the 2020 season.
Lillis, who was over the Laois senior team in 2016, takes over from Kildare’s Niall Carew who was in charge of Ballylinan last year when they were defeated in the quarter-final by eventual finalists Killeshin.
They were in the senior final as recently as 2017 under Paul Julian, their first appearance in the Laois decider in 30 years.
Lillis, a multiple championship winner with Portlaoise as a player, brings a wealth of experience and a proven track record at club level to the role. He will be assisted by Pat Murphy and Aidan Walsh.
As well as winning senior championships in Laois during two spells with Portlaoise, he has also guided St Laurence’s in Kildare and Palatine in Carlow to senior glory.
This will be his first time in a charge of a club in Laois other than Portlaoise and it will bring him in opposition to The Town and his son Kieran in Division 1 of the league and possibly in the championship depending on the draw.
Ballylinan chairman Walter Hovenden confirmed the news and paid tribute to outgoing selector and former manager Paul Julian.
He said: “Paul was a selector for two years under Gary Kavanagh and then managed us himself in 2017 and 2018 – reaching the final in 2017.
“He was then a selector under Niall Carew and is an amazing servant to our club.
“He is now coaching our underage teams and we are very lucky to have him involved in our club.”
Portlaoise, incidentally, are the only one of 16 senior clubs in Laois without a manager following Niall Rigney’s decision to step down from the role after their defeat to Eire Og of Carlow in the Leinster Club semi-final last November.
In all ten of the 16 senior clubs will have new men at the helm for 2020.
Ballylinan, Killeshin, Courtwood, Stradbally, Ballyroan-Abbey, O’Dempsey’s, Emo, The Heath and St Joseph’s have all appointed new managers.
Following Maurice Browne’s appointment as a selector with Laois, Killeshin appointed former Kildare player Karol O’Dwyer while former Laois player Gary Kavanagh has taken over in Courtwood after Eddie Kinsella took on the Laois U-20 job.
John Strong has returned to the Emo job again replacing Paul Lawlor while St Joseph’s have former All Star Joe Higgins alongside Mick Dempsey, who only recently stepped aside as a selector with the Kilkenny hurlers.
O’Dempsey’s have Francis Finn, who was part of John Sugrue’s backroom team with Laois, and he will be assisted by Sean Cotter from Portlaoise, who was also involved with Sugrue and was previously a selector with Portlaoise.
The Heath will also have a new manager with Michael McNamee from Rhode in Offaly taking over from Westmeath’s Gordon McDonall. McNamee was previously in charge of The Rock.
Portarlington, beaten semi-finalists in 2019, have retained the services of Martin Murphy while the two Arles clubs are also unchanged – with Hugh Kenny in Killeen and Lar Wall in Kilcruise once again.
Graiguecullen also have Kevin Doogue returning to the role for the 2020 season.
Ballyfin, who were only beaten in the semi-final after a replay by Killeshin, last year will again be managed by Killian Fitzpatrick while newcomers Rosenallis have kept Paddy Dunne, who has overseen the club’s junior and intermediate successes in the past four seasons.
The full list of senior football managers for 2020 season is:
- Portlaoise – No appointment yet
- Killeshin – Karol O’Dwyer (1st season)
- Portarlington – Martin Murphy (2nd season)
- Ballyfin – Killian Fitzpatrick (2nd season)
- St Joseph’s – Joe Higgins and Mick Dempsey (1st season)
- Ballylinan – Mick Lillis (1st season)
- Graiguecullen – Kevin Doogue (2nd season)
- O’Dempsey’s – Francis Finn (1st season)
- Emo – John Strong (1st season)
- Arles-Killeen – Hugh Kenny (2nd season)
- Ballyroan-Abbey – Padraig Clancy (1st season)
- Courtwood – Gary Kavanagh (1st season)
- Arles-Kilcruise – Lar Wall (2nd season)
- The Heath – Michael McNamee (1st season)
- Stradbally – Greg Ramsbottom (1st season)
- Rosenallis – Paddy Dunne (2nd season)