This piece was originally published on LaoisToday on April 21, 2017.
We salute this crew of mighty men. Any player that can keep playing sport well into their 40s is not to be messed with and in Laois there a number of footballers still lining out with their club’s first team well past the age that most have decided to retire.
While there are a number of players in this age category still playing for their club’s second or third team, we have confined this list to players with their club’s main football team.
There are also a number of lads still leading the way for their clubs in their late 30s – but we have applied a strict Over 40 limit to this. Hang in there for another couple of years lads and we might include you when the time comes!
Michael Lawlor (Emo)
The first name on this list. Lawlor played for Laois from 1991 to 2004 and 13 years after his inter-county retirement he is still pulling on the Emo jersey.
Scored two goals against Portlaoise in the Laois SFC final in 2015 when they very nearly denied The Town nine-in-a-row and has featured for Emo in Division 1B of the league already this season. He’ll be 45 this year and is now also club chairman.
Paudge Conway (Arles-Kilcruise)
What the Conway family have contributed to the Arles-Kilcruise clubs over the years simply can’t be underestimated. Of this generation, Chris was the one that featured most with Laois although David is clocking up the appearances too.
James and Paudge are the older ones with Paudge still a key man in defence. Played with Laois at underage level and played for a while at senior too.
Was full-back when Arles won the championship in 2003 and has played in a couple of finals since too. A brilliant reader of the game and an excellent defender. He’ll be 41 this year and is still a force to be reckoned with.
John Kealy (Ballylinan)
Ballylinan have an amount of young players and a promising team. But bringing up their average age profile is big John ‘Baler’ Kealy in the middle of the field. A mountain of a man who has great hands and well able to play ball.
Played at all levels with Laois and while he missed a number of years with Ballylinan as he was living in Australia, he has returned in recent seasons and is a big influence for them.
Will also be 41 this year and has to be enthused by the introduction of the mark.
Colin Miller (Annanough)
Annanough are a club that get a lot out of their more experienced players with the likes of Cyril Darcy, Darran Hennessy and Gerry Nerney all having featured for the intermediate team in recent seasons.
Colin Miller has also given incredible service to the club in a variety of positions and is now the club manager but has also played in this year’s ACFL Division 1B. A good target man who is well able to take a goal chance.
Derek O’Connell (Kilcavan)
You could nearly include half the Kilcavan team such is their selection of veteran players. Roscommon native Michael Tarpey, Rory O’Connell, Pat Hunt and Liam O’Brien just some of their staunch servants.
But Derek ‘Fresh’ O’Connell is the obvious choice from the small club on the Offaly border. Played for Laois in the mid 90s and has always been excellent at club level, helping them win junior titles in three different decades and still a real handful for any defence.
Has managed the team in recent years and is now playing in goals. A club legend.