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PROFILED: Meet the 34 Laois hurlers hoping to bring Leinster minor glory home on Monday

Laois minor hurlers

The Laois minor hurlers will go in search of their first Leinster title since the 1960s at home to Offaly tomorrow night.

The game was initially pencilled in for yesterday but the counties agreed to the switch and the match will now be shown live on TG4 with throw in at 7.30pm

A win for Laois would send them into an All Ireland semi-final though a loss wouldn’t mean their season is finished.

Instead they’d go into a quarter-final round robin group alongside Galway and the beaten Munster finalists Clare with two to advance to the semi-finals.

Last weekend’s win over Kilkenny was their fifth Saturday in a row to be in championship action – and there’s plenty more to come yet.

Declan Qualter’s side have beaten Kildare, Westmeath, Wexford and Kilkenny so far with their only blip coming against Offaly in the group stages when Offaly were 1-20 to 1-17 winners.

Qualter, a Galway native who played with Dublin before moving to Laois, is in his second season in charge of Laois and having been knocked out by Kildare in the opening round last year, many of the same players have come back to feature in this campaign.

Former Waterford manager Derek McGrath is involved in the coaching team and has been very visible on matchdays while Tom Brennan, Damien Carter and Tadhg Doran are all key members of the backroom team too.

That loss to Offaly sent Laois into a preliminary quarter-final against Westmeath where they’d to come back from an early eight-point deficit to win 2-15 to 0-17.

They then recorded a dramatic win over Wexford in the quarter-final before holding off Kilkenny, 1-15 to 0-15, in the semi-final for a first win over the Cats since 1964.

You have to go back to 1964 for Laois’s last Leinster final success at this age grade though they’ve since lost finals in 1966, 1978, 1990, 1991 and 2013.

Below, we profile each of the 34 players who are part of the minor panel this year.

They range in age from 15 to 17 and come from a total of 12 clubs.

Laois are captained by Camross’ Eoghan Cuddy while Ciaran Flynn of The Harps is vice-captain.

GOALKEEPERS 

Brochan O’Reilly 

Age: 17
Club: Portlaoise
School: Mountrath CS
Position: Goalkeeper
Favourite Player: Nicky Quaid

Peter Rafter 

Age: 17
Club: Clough-Ballacolla
School: St Fergal’s Rathdowney
Position: Goalkeeper
Favourite Player: Eoin Murphy


DEFENDERS

Bobby Murphy

Age: 16
Club: The Harps
School: St Kieran’s Kilkenny
Position: Corner back
Favourite Player: Dessie Hutchinson

Ciaran Flynn

Age: 17
Club: The Harps
School: Colaiste Mhuire Johnstown
Position: Full back
Favourite Player: Brian Holland

Joseph Pearson

Age: 16
Club: Clough-Ballacolla
School: Mountrath CS
Position: Corner back
Favourite Player: Stephen Bergin

Thomas Brennan

Age: 16
Club: Clough-Ballacolla
School: St Kieran’s Kilkenny
Position: Wing back
Favourite Player: Tadhg de Burca

Tom Cuddy

Age: 16
Club: Camross
School: Mountrath CS
Position: Half back
Favourite Player: Niall Cuddy

Cormac Hogan

Age: 16
Club: Clough-Ballacolla
School: St Fergal’s Rathdowney
Position: Wing back
Favourite Player: Kyle Hayes

Rory Kelly

Age: 17
Club: Castletown
School: Mountrath CS
Position: Half back
Favourite Player: Callum Lyons

Eoghan Murphy

Age: 16
Club: The Harps
School: Heywood
Position: Half back
Favourite Player: Aaron Gillane

Ciaran Coss

Age: 16
Club: Borris-Kilcotton
School: St Fergal’s Rathdowney
Position: Half back
Favourite Player: Joe Canning

Will Duggan

Age: 17
Club: The Harps
School: Colaiste Mhuire Johnstown
Position: Corner Back
Favourite Player: The inspirational Joseph Pearson

Tom O’Keeffe

Age: 16
Club: Abbeyleix
School: Heywood CS
Position: Corner back
Favourite Player: Jackie Tyrrell

Eli Quinn 

Age: 15
Club: Abbeyleix
School: Heywood CS
Position: Wing back
Favourite Player: Patrick Horgan


MIDFIELDERS

Andrew McDonagh 

Age: 16
Club: Ballinakill
School: Heywood CS
Position: Midfield
Favourite Player: Noel McGrath

Kevin Byrne 

Age: 17
Club: Camross
School: Mountrath CS
Position: Midfield
Favourite Player: Mossy Keyes

Aaron Carroll

Age: 16
Club: Camross
School: Mountrath CS
Position: Midfield
Favourite Player: Eoin Cody

Josh Hynes 

Age: 16
Club: Camross
School: Mountrath CS
Position: Midfield
Favourite Player: Tadhg Doran

Evan Cassin 

Age: 16
Club: Clough-Ballacolla
School: St Fergal’s Rathdowney
Position: Midfield
Favourite Player: Willie Hyland


FORWARDS

Ben Deegan

Age: 17
Club: Camross
School: Mountrath
Position: Half forward
Favourite Player: Daniel Delaney

Liam Kirby

Age: 16
Club: The Harps
School: Colaiste Mhuire Johnstown
Position: Centre Forward
Favourite Player: Lee Chin

Jack Breen

Age: 17
Club: Castletown
School: Mountrath CS
Position: Wing forward
Favourite Player: Tony Kelly

Eoghan Cuddy

Age: 17
Club: Camross
School: Mountrath CS
Position: Corner Forward
Favourite Player: Dessie Hutchinson

Jer Quinlan

Age: 17
Club: Borris-Kilcotton
School: Mountrath
Position: Full forward
Favourite Player: Oisin Fleming

Cormac Byrne 

Age: 15
Club: Abbeyleix
School: Heywood CS
Position: Corner Forward
Favourite Player: Tony Kelly

Justin Duggan

Age: 16
Club: The Harps
School: Colaiste Mhuire Johnstown
Position: Corner forward
Favourite Player: Mo Salah

Kevin Hyland

Age: 17
Club: Clough-Ballacolla
School: St Fergal’s Rathdowney
Position: Corner Forward
Favourite Player: Dessie Hutchinson

Mark Downey

Age: 15
Club: The Harps
School: Colaiste Mhuire Johnstown
Position: Half Forward
Favourite Player: Aaron Gillane

Jacques Dowling

Age: 17
Club: Rathdowney-Errill
School: St Fergal’s Rathdowney
Position: Wing forward
Favourite Player: Tony Kelly

Caelum O’Brien

Age: 16
Club: Mountrath
School: Mountrath CS
Position: Half Forward
Favourite Player: Gearoid Hegarty

Enda Shortall

Age: 17
Club: Park-Ratheniska-Timahoe
School: Heywood CS
Position: Half Forward
Favourite Player: Patrick Bonner Maher

Jordan Downey

Age: 16
Club: Portarlington
School: Colaiste Iosagain
Position: Corner forward
Favourite Player: TJ Reid

Emmet Bergin

Age: 16
Club: Camross
School: Mountrath CS
Position: Half forward
Favourite Player: Tony Kelly

Sean Og Byrne 

Age: 16
Club: Castletowm
School: Mountrath
Position: Half Forward
Favourite Player: Aaron Gillane


MANAGEMENT 

Manager: Declan Qualter
Coach/Selector: Tadhg Doran
Coach/Selector: Damien Carter
Coach/Selector: Derek McGrath
Strength and Conditioning: Tomas Hassett
Team Secretary: Tim Bonham
Physio: Laura Langton
Video: Brian O’Sullivan
Stats: James Brennan
Logistics: Tom Brennan

SEE ALSO – Check out all our coverage of the Laois minor hurlers here

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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.