The first ever Laois premier intermediate hurling championship is still awaiting its conclusion.
Like all club action, it was called to a halt back in October when Covid-19 cases spiked.
But prior to its postponement we had seen Portlaoise and The Harps battle their way to the final.
They had undoubtedly been the two best teams in the competition and were rarely troubled in their four matches to reach that stage.
Camross and Slieve Bloom progressed to the semi final alongside the aforementioned duo.
Slieve Bloom put up a marginally better fight against The Harps – losing 1-18 to 0-9.
While Camross went down to Portlaoise by 3-18 to 0-16 – having been competitive for the opening 25 minutes.
Ballyfin and Clonaslee were both eliminated in the group stages while newly formed Colt-Shanahoe and Mountrath contested the relegation final – with the former winning easily.
After much deliberation we have settled on this as our Team of the Year from the games that were played.
Finalists The Harps and Portlaoise lead the way with five representatives each while Slieve Bloom have two, Camross have one and so too do Colt-Shanahoe and Clonaslee.
Check it out below:
1 – Gavin Conroy (Slieve Bloom)
Having been named on our intermediate team of the year in 2018, Gavin Conroy now takes a place on the first ever senior A team.
His puckouts are accurate and he chipped in with a number of points across the year from long range frees. A key part of their team.
2 – Conor Dunne (The Harps)
A real class act, Conor Dunne was a real standout for The Harps in all of their games.
He was invariably the man of the match and not someone that forwards enjoyed being marked by.
3 – Frank Flanagan (Portlaoise)
Laois senior hurler Frank Flanagan was named on this selection two years ago when Portlaoise were at this grade and he is back again.
A tough competitor, he excelled in all of Portlaoise’s wins.
4 – Chris Lynch (Portlaoise)
The second Portlaoise hurler to make the list is another fine defender in the shape of Chris Lynch.
Is routinely placed on the better forwards of the opposing teams that Portlaoise faced on the route to the final and did very well.
5 – Ciaran McEvoy (Portlaoise)
Ciaran McEvoy enjoyed a real breakthrough year in 2020 as he went on to get plenty of minutes with Laois.
And his performances for Portlaoise gave him the springboard to do that as he was immense on the half back line.
6 – Podge Delaney (The Harps)
Injury disrupted some of Podge Delaney’s 2020, but when he was on the pitch, he was top class.
A fantastic reader of the game, he is extremely versatile and can operate comfortably in a range of different positions.
7 – Liam Senior (Clonaslee)
After being relegated in 2019 only for the formation of Colt-Shanahoe to give them a reprieve, 2020 was a year of progression for Clonaslee who just missed out on a semi final place.
Like McEvoy above, Liam Senior had a real breakthrough year with Laois and he was similarly impressive for Clonaslee.
8 – Ciaran Burke (The Harps)
The youngest member of this year’s selection is Ciaran Burke – who was also chosen on the intermediate football selection for Crettyard.
A really composed and skilful hurler, he has a huge career ahead of him. Picked up a nasty leg injury in the semi final and probably would’ve missed the final had it not been postponed.
9 – James Keyes (Colt-Shanahoe)
Colt-Shanahoe’s first year as a newly amalgamated club almost ended in disaster as they ended up in the relegation final.
But they trounced Mountrath in that with James Keyes, who was unquestionably their best player throughout the championship, leading them to safety.
10 – Ben Conroy (Slieve Bloom)
Ben Conroy has been out of the country for the last few years and Slieve Bloom have dearly missed him.
But his return saw them go from relegation finalists to semi finalists in 12 months and he finished the year as their highest scorer.
11 – Ciaran Comerford (The Harps)
A real livewire, Ciaran Comerford comes into this team at centre forward.
Hard working and always capable of getting a score, he is very important for The Harps.
12 – Cormac Rigney (Portlaoise)
Capable of hitting frees and scoring points from play, Cormac Rigney has been consistently one of Portlaoise’s best players for the last few years.
He completes our half forward line and will hope to collect his second medal at this grade when action resumes having won his first as a teenager.
13 – Philip Russell (The Harps)
Russell played for Laois in the late 2000s and was a high-scoring forward for Galmoy in Kilkenny before transferring to The Harps last year.
A man with a real eye for goal, it has been a match made in heaven so far as his ability in front of goal has given The Harps an extra dimension.
14 – Aaron Bergin (Portlaoise)
A nasty injury robbed Aaron Bergin of a chance to play in the final of this competition in 2018 but he will be hoping for better whenever action resumes.
Portlaoise’s top scorer, he makes them tick and is probably the best forward in the competition.
15 – Darren Gilmartin (Camross)
The final spot on the team goes to Camross’ Darren Gilmartin.
A senior winner in the past, Gilmartin and his colleagues were playing at this level for the first time following their promotion in 2019 and he was influential as they reached the semi final.