Home Sport GAA PROFILED: The Laois U-20 footballers vying for Leinster championship glory against Dublin

PROFILED: The Laois U-20 footballers vying for Leinster championship glory against Dublin

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The long awaited day is just 24 hours away for the Laois U-20 footballers.

Friday is Leinster final day, with Laois and Dublin preparing to do battle in Netwatch Cullen Park in Carlow.

Laois are in their second provincial decider at this level in a row – and their third successive one against Dublin.

The last time Laois contested a final at the old U-21 grade was against a Dublin team managed by Jim Gavin in 2009.

While this Friday’s game is a repeat of the decider between the two sides last July.

Laois went down 4-18 to 0-17 last year and will be hoping to put that right this time. 

You have to go back to 2007 for Laois’s last win at this level and they will be hoping to end the run on Friday evening with throw in at 7.30pm.

Ahead of the clash, we have profiled each of the 36 players who are at manager Eddie Kinsella’s disposal.

Check it out below:

GOALKEEPERS 

Name: Matthew Byron
Age: 19
Club: Courtwood
Social media: @bearbyron_10 (Instagram)

Son of All-Star goalkeeper Fergal, Matthew is carving out a name for himself at this grade for the last two seasons.

He has made some very important saves in the wins over Westmeath and Kildare and has only conceded one goal to date.

Niall Gorman

Name: Niall Gorman
Age: 20
Club: Emo
Social media: @niallgorman1 (Instagram)

Matthew’s back-up is Emo No 1 Niall Gorman who is a very capable keeper too.

Was in goals on the Courtwood-Emo team that won the U-20 championship with Byron outfield on that side.

DEFENDERS

Name: Michael Dowling
Age: 20
Club: Portlaoise
Social media: @michael_dowling_ (Instagram)

Michael Dowling may not be the biggest corner back you’ll ever come across, but he has the heart of a lion and he is as tenacious in the tackle as they come.

Sticky as hell, he was excellent on this team last year too.

Alex Mohan

Name: Alex Mohan
Age: 19
Club: Portarlington
Social media: @alex_mohan55 (Instagram)

Like Dowling, Alex Mohan is the type of defender that all attackers hate being marked by because he simply gives you no space.

His use of the ball is always efficient and he gives serious effort every time he takes to the field. He will probably be tasked with marking Dublin’s main forward Ciaran Archer.

Captain Neil Keane receives the Shield from Leinster GAA’s Tadhg Doran

Name: Neil Keane
Age: 19
Club: The Heath
Social media: @neil_keane2000 (Instagram)

Neil is studying chemical and biomedical engineering in the University of Limerick and was not on this panel last year.

The Heath youngster has filled the void left by Seamus Lacey very well and firmly nailed down a starting spot in the full back line.

Jack Lacey

Name: Jack Lacey
Age: 19
Club: St Joseph’s
Social media: @jacklacey06 (Instagram)

Jack Lacey had never represented Laois at any grade before last year but this was a real breakthrough as he started in the wins over Kildare and Westmeath.

Injury saw him miss the Meath and Dublin games but he has returned in great form this season and can kick a score.

Name: Gary Saunders
Age: 19
Club: Portlaoise
Social media: @garysaunders_ (Instagram)

After a breakthrough season with Portlaoise in 2018 Saunders opted not to join the U-20 panel in 2019 due to his Leaving Certificate.

However, his inclusion this year has been a major boost to a Laois defence that has conceded very little in the two games they have played so far.

Name: Sean O’Flynn
Age: 19
Club: Courtwood
Social media: @sean.oflynn (Instagram)

Sean O’Flynn is embarking on his second season with the Laois seniors and those commitments saw him miss the quarter final win over Westmeath with injury.

But he returned for the semi final win over Kildare and his athletic ability from the half back line will be crucial.

Dean Brophy St Josephs

Name: Dean Brophy
Age: 19
Club: St Joseph’s
Social Media: dean_brophy17 (Instagram)

Dean is a flying wing back who has incredible stamina and can easily get up and down the pitch.

After starting the win over Westmeath, the return of Sean O’Flynn saw Brophy lose his place but he will be ready if called upon in the final.

Name: Sean O’Neill
Age: 18
Club: The Rock
Social media: @sean.oneill001 (Instagram)

Laois minor captain in 2018, O’Neill moved to the adult ranks with The Rock last year where he operated at full forward and scored freely for them.

He has made substitute appearances in both games this year where he has really caught the eye and is eligible for this grade again next year.

Dylan Kavanagh and PJ Daly

Name: Dylan Kavanagh
Age: 20
Club: The Heath
Social media: @dylan_kav00 (Instagram)

An integral part in The Heath U-20 team that won the U-20 ‘B’ football championship against Clonaslee last year.

Kavanagh is very versatile, he can play in defence or attack and is a very energetic player.

Name: Seth Burns-Mooney
Age: 18
Club: Courtwood
Social media: @burnsseth (Instagram)

Another of the 2018 minor team, Burns-Mooney graduated to the Courtwood senior team this year where he made several appearances for them in the Championship.

Like O’Neill above he is also eligible to play at this grade again next year.

Jack Owens

Name: Jack Owens
Age: 19
Club: Clonaslee
Social media: @jack_owens00 (Instagram)

The first of two Jack Owens on the team and he comes from Clonaslee.

After starting some of the games in the league, Owens has not managed a game since. He was excellent in the Divisional Competition.

Fionn Holland of O’Dempsey’s with his family

Name: Fionn Holland
Age: 18
Club: O’Dempsey’s
Social media: @fionn_holland_ (Instagram)

A dual player with O’Dempsey’s and Clonad, Holland represented the minor hurlers in 2018.

A key member of O’Dempsey’s Junior Championship winning campaign in 2019. Holland is also eligible to play at this grade next year.

Name: Brian Fingleton
Age: 19
Club: Park-Ratheniska
Social media: @brianfingleton (Instagram)

Another member of the 2018 Laois minor football panel, Fingleton missed most of that season with a shoulder injury.

The Portlaoise CBS Leaving Cert student, who was midfield on the Park-Ratheniska-Timahoe hurling team that won the Junior championship in 2019, has made appearances in the league and will be available again next season.

Name: Killian Horgan
Age: 19
Club: Annanough
Social media: @kill_horgan (Instagram)

Man of the match for his club in the junior football final in 2018, Killian Horgan is another very versatile player who can play in defence or attack.

Such is the competitive nature of this panel, he has been unable to force his way into the squad so far.

MIDFIELDERS

Name: Barry Howlin
Age: 20
Club: O’Dempsey’s
Social media: @barry_howlin (Instagram)

After plying his trade as a bit part player behind Rob Tyrrell and Eoin Dunne last season, Barry Howlin has nailed down a starting place on this team this year.

The powerful O’Dempsey’s youngster has been a crucial member of this team and will need to continue this form in the final.

PJ Daly

Name: PJ Daly
Age: 19
Club: The Heath
Social media: @pj_daly950 (Instagram)

After making big contributions off the bench against Kildare and Westmeath last season, Daly, like Howlin above, is a regular now.

Can play in midfield or attack and is improving all the time.

Name: Bernard Wheatley
Age: 20
Club: St Joseph’s
Social media: @bernardwheatley00 (Instagram)

Another one of the 6ft plus club, St Joseph’s Bernard Wheatley made two substitute appearances last season for this team.

He is well capable of fielding ball and is well capable if called upon.

Niall Dunne

Name: Niall Dunne
Age: 20
Club: Courtwood
Social media: @niall6dunne (Instagram)

After a remarkable end to 2019 that saw Dunne lead Courtwood-Emo to U-20 glory he was then struck down with a dreadful injury.

The Courtwood midfelder suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury in a challenge match prior to the start of the league and will miss the majority of 2020 as a result. Certainly a huge loss to this team.

FORWARDS

Ronan Coffey

Name: Ronan Coffey
Age: 19
Club: Portarlington
Social media: @_ronancoffey (Instagram)

Captain fantastic Coffey missed all of the league with a hand injury but recovered in time for the championship.

A mix of frees and scores from play have been important but it is his workrate which sets him apart from almost everyone else.

Name: Jack Owens
Age: 19
Club: Emo
Social media: @jack.owens._ (Instagram)

Limited to appearances from the bench last year, Owens has nailed down a starting spot on the team this year.

Incredibly explosive, he always looks dangerous when he has the ball in hand.

Damon Larkin – Photo Paul Dargan

Name: Damon Larkin
Age: 18
Club: Portlaoise
Social media: @Damonlarkin_(Instagram)

The first of only two players on the starting 15 who are eligible to play on this team again next year.

Larkin, a Leaving Cert student in Portlaoise CBS, burst onto the scene last year by nailing down a starting spot with county champions Portlaoise. His goal in the semi final win over Kildare was crucial too.

Name: Mark Barry
Age: 19
Club: O’Dempsey’s
Social media: @mark_barry11 (Instagram)

After Sean O’Flynn, Mark Barry made the most amount of senior appearances of any member of this U-20 team.

He kicked seven points in the win over Armagh for the seniors and also scored highly against Westmeath and Kildare for the U-20s.

Name: Daragh Galvin
Age: 18
Club: Portarlington
Social media: @daraghgalvin (Instagram)

Another one of the minor squad from 2018, Galvin is just the second member of the starting 15 who is eligible again next year.

A powerful player, Galvin gives his team a real vocal point and while he may not always score he consistently shows for the ball and creates space for others.

Name: Colin Slevin
Age: 19
Club: Portarlington
Social media: @_Slev__ (Instagram)

2019 vice-captain Slevin will be looking to avenge the demons of last year when he was sent off in the second half of this fixture.

Suspension ruled him out of the penalty shoot-out win over Westmeath but he returned to face Kildare and did very well in his new attacking role.

Name: Josh Lacey
Age: 18
Club: St Joseph’s
Social media: @joshlacey200 (Instagram)

Younger brother of Jack, Josh Lacey started the win over Westmeath but lost his place for the win over Kildare.

An excellent left footed player, Lacey is well capable of scoring if given the chance.

Name: Sean Michael Corcoran
Age: 19
Club: Portarlington
Social media: @sean.corcoran1 (Instagram)

The last of five Portarlington lads in this squad, Sean Michael Corcoran also started the win over Westmeath.

The return of Colin Slevin saw him drop out for the Kildare game but he did come in off the bench where his versatility as a forward or midfielder is important.

Name: Ross Bolger
Age: 18
Club: Killeshin
Social media: @ross_bolger (Instagram)

Leaving Cert student in Knockbeg College, Bolger was also a member of the Laois minor team in 2018.

Younger brother of senior footballer Shane, Ross has made appearances from the bench in both games so far this season and will be ready to do so again if called upon in the final.

Name: Cian Doyle
Age: 20
Club: Courtwood
Social media: @cian11doyle (Instagram)

A member of the Courtwood team for their 2018 Intermediate winning season, Cian, left above, is a skillful forward.

He has a lovely left foot and is capable of scoring if given the opportunity.

Name: Damien McCaul
Age: 19
Club: Annanough
Social media: @damomcc (Instagram)

McCaul shot the lights out as Annanough won the Junior championship in 2018 but didn’t commit to this panel last year due to Leaving Cert commitments.

A neat free taker, McCaul has been on the bench for both of the games so far but is yet to make an appearance.

Name: Conor Goode
Age: 17
Club: Stradbally
Social media: @conor_goode (Instagram)

The sole Stradbally representative on the team is also the youngest player on the panel – Fifth Year Portlaoise CBS student Conor Goode.

The skillful forward is the only member of the 2019 Laois minor panel to make this squad and he has gained valuable experience in the league. Goode will be eligible to play on this team for two more years.

Name: Cathal Doyle
Age: 18
Club: Ballyroan-Abbey
Social media: @cathal_doy1e (Instagram)

Another member of the 2018 minor squad, Doyle graduated to the Ballyroan-Abbey senior ranks last year.

He is extremely tall and his aerial threat could be utilized if Laois are in search of a goal late in the game on Friday.

Name: Enda McWey
Age: 18
Club: Ballyroan-Abbey
Social media: @enda.mcwey (Instagram)

Like his clubmate above, McWey was on the Laois minor panel in 2018 and later captained his club to minor championship glory.

They Heywood Leaving Cert student has struggled with injury this year but is eligible for this grade again next season.

Ben Conroy

Name: Ben Conroy
Age: 19
Club: Portlaoise
Social media: @ben_conroy_ (Instagram)

The fourth and final player from Portlaoise on this squad is Ben Conroy – who was at midfield for the minors in 2018.

Like many of the extended panel, Conroy can play on this team again next year.

Name: Bob Downey
Age: 18
Club: Clonaslee
Social media: @rob_downey (Instagram)

A dual player, Bob Downey was impressive as The West claimed the second ever Laois Divisional Football Competition last winter.

A clever forward, he is eligible for this grade again next year.

SEE ALSO – Check out all of our coverage of the Laois U-20s