The first Team of the Week from the Round 1 SFC and IFC action from 2021 is here.
We had eight senior games, four intermediate games and a handful of Junior A games taking place over the weekend.
With such a volume of games, there are always going to be some who are unlucky to miss out.
Three who fall into this category all actually scored hat-tricks in their respective games – Brian Dunne of Park-Ratheniska, Robbie McNeil of O’Dempsey’s intermediates and Elliott Scully of Annanough.
In total, 13 club are represented on this week’s team with just two clubs – O’Dempsey’s and Stradbally – providing more than one player.
1 – Eoghan Keogh (Mountmellick)
Clonaslee’s Barry Kelly can consider himself unlucky to miss out here after making a string of fine saves against St Joseph’s but he was beaten twice.
One of the few to keep a clean sheet this week was Eoghan Keogh – who made a match winning one-on-one save in the closing stages too.
2 – Micheal Downey (Ballylinan)
As debuts at adult level go, this one was almost perfect for this young man – except for the end result.
Tasked with man marking the dangerous Brian Fitzpatrick of Rosenallis, Downey held him scoreless and his willingness to get out in front and win the ball was hugely impressive.
3 – James Kelly (St Joseph’s)
James Kelly is one of St Joseph’s most consistent players and he showed again just how good he is against Clonaslee.
He ended the game with 1-2 – two wonderfully struck placed balls plus an expertly taken goal as he defended well too.
4 – Ciaran O’Neill (Stradbally)
An attacker by trade, injuries in the Stradbally warm up forced Ciaran O’Neill to revert to corner back where he was tasked with marking the dangerous Colin Dunne.
He held the Arles-Killeen man scoreless and also used his pace up the other end to set up two goals in a faultless display.
5 – Paddy Keating (Rosenallis)
While the Rosenallis hurlers dearly missed him last week, his return from a hamstring injury came just in time for the footballers.
Keating’s pace from that area is central to how Rosenallis attack and his match winning goal was a thing of beauty.
6 – Collins Ugochukwu (Courtwood)
You could go to 100 matches and you would struggle to find a player who put in a more selfless performance than the one Collins Ugochukwu gave on his championship debut for Courtwood.
Tasked with man marking the rampaging Gareth Dillon on Portlaoise, he never left his side for the entire game. And even managed to give the pass for Courtwood’s final score with proved crucial in the end.
7 – Darragh Carolan (Stradbally)
Picked out as our one to watch this year for Stradbally, Darragh Carolan is quickly becoming one of their most important players.
A wrist injury ruled him out for the Laois U-20s but his return came just in time for his club as he finished Sunday’s win over Arles-Killeen with 2-4 from play.
8 – Shane Nerney (O’Dempsey’s)
As good as the aforementioned Collins Ugochukwu was for Courtwood, Shane Nerney was every bit as important for O’Dempsey’s against Emo.
He was asked to shackle the goalscoring wing back Padraig Kirwan and he managed to do that while also popping up with a goal himself.
9 – Adam Ryan (Portarlington)
Mr Consistent himself, Adam Ryan was at it again against Ballyfin at the weekend.
Always one of Portarlington’s top performers, Ryan finished this game with 1-2 and his work-rate from wing forward back to midfield is second to none.
10 – Shaun Fitzpatrick (Ballyroan-Abbey)
Many in Ballyroan-Abbey have waited patiently for this young man to make his adult debut and he did not disappoint.
Shaun Fitzpatrick is a real live wire who scored two brilliant points and shipped an unnatural amount of hits in the win over Killeshin. A real player for the future.
11 – Conor Kelly (Graiguecullen)
The fourth debutant to make this list is Graiguecullen’s Conor Kelly. Like Fitzpatrick above, his arrival was awaited with anticipation and he did not disappoint.
A wonderful striker of the ball, Kelly finished the game against The Heath with six points and could develop into the marque forward that Graiguecullen really need.
12 – Mark Barry (O’Dempsey’s)
After a difficult year with Laois, Mark Barry looked back to his very best against Emo on Friday.
He finished the game with 1-6 and tormented his opponents from the first minute right to the last.
13 – James Connolly (Park-Ratheniska)
Brilliant in the Junior final during the summer, James Connolly continued that form at a higher grade on Wednesday night against Timahoe.
The teenager finished the match with eight points to his name and was integral to the majority of the attacks that Park-Ratheniska created.
14 – Evan O’Carroll (Crettyard)
When Crettyard were in big trouble against The Rock last week, their talisman stepped up as he so often does and saved them.
Evan O’Carroll finished the game with 2-9 – his second goal proving to be the match winner right near the end.
15 – Sean Moore (Ballyfin)
When Sean Moore plays well, Ballyfin play well so it was no surprise to see them run Portarlington so close this time.
Moore finished the tie with nine points and his movement was electric.