This piece originally featured on LaoisToday on June 23, 2018, ahead of that year’s Leinster senior football final.
In 2007, the Laois senior footballers reached their fourth Leinster final from the previous five years.
They triumphed in 2003 before losing in 2004 and 2005 – and were now back at the showpiece event having defeated Wexford and Longford along the way.
Laois people were just becoming accustomed to an annual trip to Croke Park and then all of a sudden it stopped.
That Leinster final in 2007 was disappointing but little did any of us think that it would be 11 years before we were back here again.
On July 15 2007, a Laois side captained by Timahoe’s Padraig Clancy and managed by Liam Kearns, travelled to the capital to face Dublin – just as Laois will do again tomorrow.
Dublin had won the previous two Leinster titles and this would be the third in a run which has seen them win 12 of the previous 13.
The only blip on the road coming in 2010 when they lost out to Meath in the Leinster semi final.
The Leinster Express front page on the Wednesday before the game told how Laois were bidding for Leinster glory on the double – as our minors were also playing in a final before hand.
They took on Carlow where a Conor Meredith hat-trick inspired Ed Kelly’s men to what would prove to be our most recent provincial success at this level.
Laois went into the game without midfielder Noel Garvan and forward Chris Conway – both the St Joseph’s and Arles-Kilcruise men ruled out with injury.
And while they lost out by 3-14 to 1-14 in the end in front of a sell out crowd in Croke Park, they actually performed reasonably well.
This was the first season after the departure of Mick O’Dwyer as manager and just 11 months previous, Laois had been thumped in the semi final under him by Dublin on a 3-17 to 0-12 scoreline.
But Laois were far more competitive here, established a useful lead in the first quarter and were just a score behind at half-time.
However, after the break they lacked purpose and, physically dominated, appeared to regard defeat as inevitable.
Points from wing forwards Colm Parkinson and Peter O’Leary had brought Laois to level terms when they struck for goal in the seventh minute.
Brian McCormack’s long ball found Beano McDonald – a late call-up in place of the injured Chris Conway – whose shot was blocked but as it dribbled beyond Ross McConnell towards the goal line, the Dublin full back stumbled slightly and the incoming Ross Munnelly provided the finishing touch.
The same player added a sweetly taken point within 90 seconds to give his side a four-point lead, 1-3 to 0-2, which they maintained for the first 20 minutes.
But Paul Caffrey’s men finished the half with goals from Mark Vaughan and Bernard Brogan to take a 2-7 to 1-6 lead at half time.
Laois got back into it on the resumption with two more Parkinson points but the killer blow came a couple of moments later when Alan Brogan emulated his brother for a third goal.
Laois kept plugging away though and didn’t let Dublin run that riot – without ever looking like they could make them worry either.
And amazingly, the final whistle signalled the end of Laois’s run of Leinster final appearances for over a decade – until 2018.
SCORERS – Laois: MJ Tierney 0-7 (six frees, one 45), Ross Munnelly 1-1, Colm Parkinson 0-3, Billy Sheehan, Bruno McCormack, Peter O’Leary 0-1 each Dublin: Mark Vaughan 1-6 (five frees), Alan Brogan and Bernard Brogan 1-1, Conal Keaney (one free) and Alan Whelan 0-2 each, Tomas Quinn and Ger Brennan 0-1 each
LAOIS: Fergal Byron (Courtwood); Darren Rooney (Clonaslee), Joe Higgins (St Joseph’s), Cathal Ryan (Portarlington); Padraig McMahon (Ballyroan-Abbey), Tom Kelly (St Joseph’s), Bruno McCormack (Portlaoise); Padraig Clancy (Timahoe), Brendan Quigley (Timahoe); Peter O’Leary (O’Dempsey’s), Paul Lawlor (Emo), Colm Parkinson (Portlaoise); Ross Munnelly (Arles-Kilcruise), MJ Tierney (Ballyroan-Abbey), Beano McDonald (Arles-Killeen) Subs: Billy Sheehan (Emo) for McDonald (50 mins), Kevin Fitzpatrick (Portlaoise) for Lawlor (65 mins).
DUBLIN: Stephen Cluxton; David Henry, Ross McConnell, Paul Griffin; Barry Cahill, Bryan Cullen, Paul Casey; Ciaran Whelan, Shane Ryan; Colin Moran, Jason Sherlock, Bernard Brogan; Conal Keaney, Alan Brogan, Mark Vaughan. Subs: Tomas Quinn for Sherlock (63 mins), Kevin Bonner for Vaughan (66 mins), Ger Brennan for Casey (69 mins), Diarmuid Connolly for B Brogan (70 mins), Johnny Magee for Whelan (71 mins)