A pulsating Premier Intermediate hurling championship came to a conclusion back in November.
Pre-tournament favourites Ballinakill came out on top as they defeated Ballyfin in the final.
It was a reversal of the result from Round 1 where Ballyfin were triumphant and sees Ballinakill promoted back to Senior for 2022.
They are rewarded for a fine year with seven representatives on our team of the year.
Defeated finalists Ballyfin come next with four while semi finalists Portlaoise have two.
Two more teams, Camross and Slieve Bloom, are also represented as they have one each.
Check it out below:
1 – Paul Simms (Ballinakill)
Back up keeper to Enda Rowland with Laois, Simms is very much the main man for Ballinakill.
He demonstrated that throughout the championship with a string of stunning saves at crucial times in all of the games.
2 – Brian O’Meara (Ballinakill)
A rock at the back for Ballinakill, Brian O’Meara is named in the full back line for our team this year.
Man of the match in the county final, O’Meara put in a number of dominant displays for Ballinakill throughout the year.
3 – Frank Flanagan (Portlaoise)
Flanagan has been named on this team every year that Portlaoise have competed at this grade and he is back again.
A tough competitor, he excelled in all of Portlaoise’s games and unlucky not to reach the final.
4 – Allan Connolly (Ballyfin)
One of the Connolly brothers to make our team this year, Allan completes the full back line.
He is extremely versatile and could’ve been selected on any line of the field. Still very young, he has a big future ahead.
5 – Lir McDonald (Ballinakill)
A Laois minor in 2017, McDonald has steadily improved each season and is now one of the main players on the Ballinakill team.
He is a free scoring half back that can also operate comfortably in midfield too.
6 – Sean Downey (Ballinakill)
Arguably Laois’s best and most consistent player in 2021, Downey carried that form back into the club championship.
He is a tight man marker but is also really clever with the ball in hand – typically popping up with a long range score.
7 – Ciaran McEvoy (Portlaoise)
Like Flanagan above, Ciaran McEvoy has been named on this team each time that Portlaoise have operated at this level.
And like Downey, he also had a brilliant year with Laois which translated into a fine club campaign too.
8 – Podge Lawlor (Ballinakill)
Hasn’t played for Laois for the last few years, but Podge Lawlor showed that he is still up there with the best in the county with his performances for Ballinakill this year.
A real warrior, his aggression in midfield sets the tone for his team and he is a real asset.
9 – Darragh Connolly (Ballyfin)
The second midfield spot on the team came down to a shoot-out between the Connolly brothers – with Darragh just edging David out.
He is a real live-wire in the middle of the park and showed his versatility by switching to full forward with devastating consequences in some of the games.
10 – Cha Dwyer (Ballinakill)
Player of the year and just pure class, Cha Dwyer is the first of our forwards to be selected.
Scoring heavily throughout the campaign, Dwyer led the line for Ballinakill as they made an immediate return to the senior ranks.
11 – Eanna Lyons (Ballyfin)
After almost two years out with injury, the return of Eanna Lyons coincided with an upturn in fortunes for Ballyfin.
He was a real focal point at centre forward and wracked up big tallies in Ballyfin’s run to the final.
12 – Seamus Fitzpatrick (Ballinakill)
After injury stifled the early part of his adult career, Seamus Fitzpatrick is flying now.
He was consistently one of Ballinakill’s top players and it is believed he has been rewarded with a county call-up – which is fully deserved.
13 – Ben Conroy (Slieve Bloom)
After returning from his travels during the year, Ben Conroy stepped into a Slieve Bloom team which were extremely unlucky to end up in a relegation final.
That was despite his very best efforts – efforts which were good enough to keep them up in the end.
14 – Gareth Dunphy (Ballyfin)
Like Lyons above, the return of Gareth Dunphy to the Ballyfin ranks this year resulted in a huge improvement in their performances.
Illness robbed him of a chance to play in the final but he had done more than enough in the games up to that stage to justify inclusion in our team.
15 – Tomas Keyes (Camross)
Teenager Tomas Keyes enjoyed a brilliant year with the Laois U-20s and carried that into the club season with Camross.
Put in a string of fine performances for his club and will surely make the step up to senior in 2022.