A few months ago – it didn’t look likely that we would see any championship action in 2020.
However, with the Coronavirus pandemic still going on around us, the adult hurling championships will get underway in Laois this week.
The action begins on Tuesday night as the Intermediate championship gets underway with the meeting of Ballypickas and Trumera.
While on Thursday, the newly renamed Premier Intermediate begins with Senior following suit.
Both competitions are being run off on a group format where teams have been placed into two of them.
The top two teams in each group will go to the semi-finals while the third and fourth placed teams play in relegation semi finals.
Here we have picked out one young player from 13 of the 16 clubs that we expect to feature this year.
With no league to go on, our task for picking out potential young stars has been made trickier and as a result, we have excluded choosing players from the second teams of Clough-Ballacolla, Rathdowney-Errill and Borris-Kilcotton who compete in the Intermediate championship as well.
Check them out below:
Portlaoise – Eddie Critchley
Part of the Laois minor football team from 2019, Critchley is also a very good hurler.
He, along with the likes of Ben Brennan, will add to Portlaoise this year as they try to jump back up to the senior grade following last year’s relegation.
Ballyfin – Darragh Lyons
Ballyfin reached the semi final last year and will be hoping that their two year stay at this level can be brought to an end in 2020.
They have former Laois minor keeper Darragh Lyons, younger brother of Eanna, in their ranks this year and he is capable of playing in goals or further up the field if required.
Colt-Shanahoe – Eoghan Brennan
Colt-Shanahoe are Laois’s newest hurling club and the joining together of their forces is going to be an interesting watch in the months ahead.
They now have plenty of players at their disposal but we have gone for Eoghan Brennan. A dynamic player with a real engine, the UCC student could make a real impact this year.
Slieve Bloom – Evan Power
Slieve Bloom staved off relegation last year by defeating Clonaslee in the decider but with Ben Conroy back home now, they may have loftier ambitions.
Evan Power is a young player who can help with that. Can operate in midfield or as a forward and usually has a score in him.
The Harps – Ciaran Burke
Crettyard native Ciaran Burke was named Laois Minor Hurler Player of the Year in 2019 and the dual player should be a big addition to The Harps as they once again try to get back to senior.
Players like James Duggan, Rhian Edwards and Conor Delaney should all be close to them team too but Burke’s physicality means he should be capable of stepping up to Premier Intermediate instantly.
Camross – Tomas Keyes
Camross’ Intermediate success in 2019 means they are the highest ranked hurling club in the county with teams in the first two grades.
Such are the playing numbers that it is hard to determine what grade lads will operate at in the absence of a league campaign – but we reckon Tomas Keyes should at least find himself here. He may be small in stature, but he is extremely skillful and showed it on numerous times at midfield for the Laois minors last year.
Clonaslee – DJ O’Callaghan
Powerful, fast and extremely skillful – up next is Clonaslee forward DJ O’Callaghan.
Another one from last year’s Laois minor hurlers, O’Callaghan will be a big addition to a Clonaslee side that got a relegation reprieve following the formation of Colt-Shanahoe.
Mountrath – Gearoid Williams
Honest and hard-working, Gearoid Williams is the pick for Mountrath this year.
A tough defender, Williams has a great engine and stays going right until the final whistle.
Park-Ratheniska-Timahoe – Danny Brennan
Park-Ratheniska-Timahoe are back at this grade after spending the previous season winning the Junior A title in their second year as a club.
Laois minor full back Danny Brennan should be a huge addition to them as they look to secure safety at this grade this year.
Mountmellick – Jarleth Connolly
Mountmellick were just touched off by Rathdowney-Errill in the semi final last year and they will hope to go one step further this time.
Defender Jarleth Connolly, younger brother of John, should help them to do just that. The Roscrea student is very powerful for his age and well capable of shackling opponents.
Trumera – Adam Kirwan
Trumera have worked miracles over the last number of years with their limited playing resources but they are finally going to get some fresh blood this year.
Paddy Hosey and Brian Bredan will make a huge difference while so too will our selection – Adam Kirwan. A fantastic free-taker, Kirwan is always guaranteed a score.
Clonad – James Whelan
Clonad staved off relegation last year by defeating Ballypickas and will be hoping to get back to the form which saw them reach the semi final three years ago.
Along with players like PJ Daly, Adam Dunne, Gareth O’Brien and Fionn Holland who have broken through in recent years, Clonad have now added another footballer from The Heath in the form of James Whelan. A very capable defender with a great engine.
Ballypickas – James Hennessy
Ballypickas, like Clonaslee at the grade above them, were given a reprieve from relegation thanks to the formation of Colt-Shanahoe.
However, they were unlucky not to beat Mountmellick in their first encounter last year and will hope to do better this year. Spink youngest James Hennessy will certainly help them in that department as he is a fine prospect in both codes.