Home Gaelic Football Club Football Strengths, weaknesses, stats and odds – looking at the four remaining teams...

Strengths, weaknesses, stats and odds – looking at the four remaining teams in the Laois SFC

Laois SFC

The Laois SFC semi-finals take place this Sunday in O’Moore Park with two really interesting contests ahead.

Portlaoise take on Ballyroan-Abbey in the first game at 2pm with champions Portarlington meeting Emo at 3.30pm.

Here we look at the remaining four teams – how they’ve got here, who’s done most of their scoring, and their strengths, weaknesses and odds:

Portarlington

Story so far

After winning the delayed 2020 final with a somewhat comfortable victory over Graiguecullen, they have since eased through the championship with wins over Ballyfin, Courtwood and Stradbally.

Top Scorer

In a star-studded team that includes top Laois forward Colm Murphy, it is actually corner forward Jake Foster who leads the way with 0-16 – averaging just more than 0-5 per game.

Key Stat

In the last two years, Portarlington have only conceded one goal in the championship. That came via Jack Cleary of Ballyfin in the delayed 2020 semi final.

Strengths

There are many things to like about Portarlington – but the depth of their panel has to be the most impressive feature of their team.

At present, Colin Slevin, Jordan Fitzpatrick, Eoin McCann and Stephen O’Neill are among those who have to be content with places on the bench. We’d be fairly confident that each of those would start on the other three remaining teams.

Weaknesses

There is nothing obvious that jumps out here. You could say that they don’t put up huge scores – but their defence is so good that this isn’t really an issue.

Championship odds: 4/5


Emo

Story so far

After losing the 2020 semi final to Graiguecullen, they also lost Round 1 to O’Dempsey’s. Were somewhat fortunate to defeat The Heath and Rosenallis subsequently but were excellent against Graigeucullen in the quarter final two weeks ago.

Top Scorer 

As Emo have played one more game than the other quarter finalists (except for Portlaoise), it is perhaps not a surprise that Paddy Hosey, with 3-14, is the highest scoring player left in the championship.

Key Stat

Aside from the Round 1 loss to O’Dempsey’s, Emo have scored at least one goal in each of their championship matches this year.

Two against The Heath, three against Rosenallis and one against Graiguecullen – goals help you win games.

Strengths

Emo’s pace is something that can trouble any team. Finbarr Crowley, Padraig Kirwan, Sean Greene and Nigel Murphy are all powerful ball carriers who can trouble any team.

Weaknesses 

Emo’s tendency to blow hot and cold is probably their biggest weakness. Poor in last year’s semi final, they were good in the league and won Division 1B before putting in three indifferent championship displays prior to the Graiguecullen win two weeks ago.

Championship odds: 7/1


Portlaoise

Story so far

Beaten quarter finalists in 2020, Portlaoise have reached this stage by being resilient rather than brilliant.

Defeated by Courtwood in Round 1, they staged a late comeback to defeat Ballyfin in Round 2. They then edged out St Joseph’s before requiring extra time to see off O’Dempsey’s the last day.

Top Scorer

Scoring has been Portlaoise’s problem and Paul Cahillane’s 1-9 is their highest but is also the lowest high of the four remaining teams.

Key Stat

Portlaoise have used more players this season than any of the teams that are remaining – 24 in total.

Michael O’Connell, Ben Dempsey, Josh Hogan, Ben Reddin, Kevin Swayne, Josh Hogan, DJ White and Michael Culliton have all been handed debuts as the age profile of the team has started to change.

Strengths

Portlaoise have used their bench effectively in all of their games – and none-more-so than in the last round against O’Dempsey’s. They made four changes by the 36th minute and those players contributed 1-9 of their total.

Weaknesses 

Portlaoise’s accuracy in front of goal has been their achilles heel all season. They have amassed double figure wides in each of their championship matches and must correct this if they want to have any chance of being successful.

Championship odds: 11/4

Paul Cahillane


Ballyroan-Abbey 

Story so far

Tipped by some as outsiders for the championship, Ballyroan-Abbey have not disappointed and won all three of their games to date. They were relatively comfortable in Round 1 against Killeshin before requiring extra time against St Joseph’s. A strong second half saw them past Courtwood the last day.

Top Scorer

With Diarmuid Whelan now operating at midfield, cousin Brian Whelan has picked up the scoring duties and leads the way with 1-13.

Key Stat 

2021 was the first time in three years that Ballyroan-Abbey did not compete in the Minor A final with players from their 2018 and 2020 successes, along with their 2019 final defeat to Emo-Courtwood, now heavily featuring in the team.

Cathal Doyle, Shaun Fitzpatrick, Enda McWey, Davin McEvoy, Brian Whelan, Ciaran Byrne, Conor McWey and Conaire Gee have all come through those teams and cemented their place in the senior team.

Strengths

Their youthful exuberance, mixed with experience from the likes of Padraig McMahon, Marty Scully, MJ Tierney and Scott Conroy, has been a joy to watch so far. They play with pace in attack and discipline in defence which makes life difficult for their opponents.

Weaknesses 

They can be wasteful at times. In the quarter final against Courtwood, they missed a lot of goal and point chances in the first half. They won’t get away with that as the championship gets to the crunch.

Championship odds: 13/2

SEE ALSO – Talking Sport Podcast: Senior and junior semi-finals, new minor manager and Congress vote

Previous articleIn Pictures: Laois secondary school hosts successful Intercultural Day
Next articleIn Pictures: Clonaslee College Funtober a big success as importance of positive mental health is highlighted
Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.