The 2021 Laois SFC gets underway this evening and is set to keep us all very busy from now until the middle of November.
There are a total of eight games to look forward to this week – one tonight, one on Friday, three on Saturday and three on Sunday.
The action begins tonight Eddie Kinsella’s Courtwood face Kevin Fitzpatrick’s Portlaoise in O’Moore Park at 7.45pm.
Portarlington start the year as favourites following their recent 2020 win but you can expect Portlaoise to push them all the way.
The likes of Emo, Graiguecullen, Ballyfin and O’Dempsey’s have shown they can challenge while there is always one unexpected team who comes through the pack.
All of the clubs involved have a number of impressive young players though who we reckon will make a mark this year.
Check them out below:
Arles-Killeen – Colin Dunne
Vice-captain of the Laois minors in 2020 and a starting forward with the Laois U-20s this year, Colin Dunne’s quality is well recognised by now.
He has started off life as an adult footballer very well by helping his team to a league final and will be hoping to push on.
Ballyfin – Eoin Connolly
Our selection for the Ballyfin hurlers last week, Eoin Connolly performed excellently in goal for them.
Has already won a league medal in his first year at adult level for the footballers and is certainly one for the future.
Ballylinan – Micheal Downey
Still a student in Knockbeg College, Micheal Downey is a very tricky forward who will add some extra firepower for Ballylinan.
This lad has a real eye for goal and with Gary Walsh suspended for Round 1, he will get an opportunity
Ballyroan-Abbey – Shaun Fitzpatrick
Dual minor champion in football and hurling last year, Shaun Fitzpatrick has been on our radar since he was excellent in the 2018 minor final as a 15-year-old.
Power, pace and a scoring threat, he will be a big asset for Ballyroan-Abbey this year.
Clonaslee – Darragh Scully
A member of the Laois minor panel in 2019 and 2020, Darragh Scully is a player with a promising future.
A really tough defender, Scully could appear anywhere on the field for Clonaslee and will certainly add a new dimension.
Courtwood – Adam O’Halloran
Another member of the Laois minor panel from 2020 comes up next.
Adam O’Halloran broke onto the Courtwood team in the league this year and has proved to be a very sticky corner back who’s usage of the ball is also impressive.
Emo – Tom Fennelly
Midfield for the Laois minors in 2020, Tom Fennelly was ineligible to play for Emo is the recent SFC semi final defeat to Graiguecullen.
However, he has been playing in the league and played a key role in the final win over Arles-Killeen recently. A tough customer who adds another dimension of steel.
Graiguecullen – Conor Kelly
Graiguecullen are crying out for natural scoring forwards and it looks like they have found one here in Conor Kelly.
Led Graigue to a Minor ‘B’ title as a 15 year old and was excellent for the Laois minors last year. Should slot straight in to the full forward line.
Killeshin – Conor Heffernan
Midfield for the Laois minors, Conor Heffernan has taken to adult football like a duck to water with a string of fine performances for the seniors and juniors.
A player with great pace, he has shown a real eye for goal so far this year and will be hoping to continue that form.
O’Dempsey’s – Stephen Lennon
O’Dempsey’s appear to be going through a period of transition with a number of younger players pushing their way onto the panel.
Stephen Lennon is another member of the Laois minor panel from 2020 and has slotted in and done very well on the half forward line so far this year.
Portarlington – Rioghan Murphy
Man of the match in the recent county final, the scary thing about Rioghan Murphy is that he is still only 18.
Portarlington’s answer to Mo Farah, his use of the ball is sublime and he typically chips in with scores. One of the county’s most promising young players and can only get better.
Portlaoise – Ben Dempsey
Portlaoise appear to have freshened up their panel this year with the likes of Ben Reddin, Sam Birrane, DJ White, Josh Hogan and Kevin Swayne all now featuring.
But we’ve gone for Ben Dempsey here. A Laois minor in 2020 and U-20 this year, he is a proper defender who seems enjoy man marking as much as rampaging forward.
Rosenallis – Charlie Friel
While it looks like Rosenallis won’t have David Dooley due to rugby commitments, this young man will certainly add to them.
Charlie Friel is a proper scoring forward and any defence that he lines out against will have to keep an eye on him.
St Joseph’s – Oisin Hooney
Another member of the Laois minor panel from 2020, Oisin Hooney has made a seamless transition to adult football thus far.
Starred at centre forward throughout the league and will be a big player this year.
Stradbally – Darragh Carolan
Injury robbed Darragh Carolan of showing what he is capable of with the Laois U-20s this year.
But after a promising first season at adult level, he is back fit now. His athleticism is crucial for Stradbally – along with his wand of a left foot.
The Heath – Aaron Thornton
The Heath are set to be without a number of their regular players through injury at the start of the campaign and that may provide an opportunity for some of their younger players.
One of those is Aaron Thornton – a powerful forward who has shown real improvement in recent years and would be well capable if given the opportunity.