Laois U-15 hurlers gave some terrific performances before losing out in the semi-final at the All Ireland B U-16 championship finals in Westmeath on Saturday.
Playing against teams that were all full U- 16 squads the Laois U-15 squad although, missing a number of key players who were called up by the county U-16 squad who were competing in the A championship in Tipperary, drew admiration from all that witnessed their hurling.
In the opening game at the St Oliver Plunkett’s ground in Mullingar they took on favourites Westmeath. The hosts had a large number of players who lined out against Laois in this years Leinster MHC, and Laois only lost the game after a wonderfully committed display by three points, having led by a point at half time and battled to the very end.
In the second game they came up against Roscommon and, fielding a much changed side, they ran out easy winners 3-8 to 1-1 and that win guaranteed them at least a place in the Shield semi final.
Laois now faced Meath in the final game in the group to see who would join Westmeath in the semi-final, and the management decided to give every member of the squad a game and picked two completely different teams for each half.
At the end of the first half Laois were on level terms at 0-3 against a full strength Meath side with Conor Hiney and Eoghan Nealon on target.
In a closely contested second half, an Eoghan Nealon point late in the game would eventually win the game for Laois.
After lunch Laois had to travel to Clonkill where they came up against a hugely physical Kerry U-16 side and, with goalkeeper Craig Haslam suffering a broken hand in an earlier game, had to draft Fionn Sinnott into goal.
Playing against a storm Laois contained the Kerry lads for much of the opening half and then conceded a freakish goal and found themselves six points in arrears at the break. A fracas on the restart saw a player from each side sent off and while Dinny Cahill shot a goal and Andrew Mortimor a point, Laois lost out by a few points after a gallant display in their fourth game of the day, against a much stronger Kerry team only playing their third.
The championship finished off what was a highly successful season for the squad and there is no doubt that they would have challenged for ultimate honours had they had the assistance of the players called on by the U-16 management on the day.
LAOIS: Craig Haslam (Portlaoise), Shane Fitzpatrick (The Harps), Denis Cahill (Park Ratheniska), Finbarr Conway (Clough Ballacolla), Oisin Nolan (Park Ratheniska), Andrew Mortimor (Camross), John O’Dwyer (Clough Ballacolla), Kevin O’Rourke (Ballyfin), Martin Phelan (Castletown), Pat Williams (Mountrath), Michael Moran (The Harps), Shane Whelan (Portlaoise), Joe Carroll (Mountrath), Caolan Murphy (Portlaoise), Eanna Lyons (Ballyfin), Fionn Sinnott (Colt), Sean Downey (The Harps), Tristan Brennan (Portlaoise), Ethan O’Reilly (Portlaoise), Conor Hiney (Colt), Eoghan Nealon (Portlaoise), Mark Whelan (Borris/Kilcotton), Shane Cahill (Clonad), Edmund Walton (Abbeyleix), Declan Foyle (The Harps), Gearoid Kirwan (Castletown), Liam Dunphy (The Harps), Cillian Rowney (Ballyfin), Fiachra Fennell (Rosenallis), Dan Williams (Mountmellick), John Oxley (Abeyleix) Jake Creagh (Rathdowney Errill). Missing with the u-16s were Mark Kavanagh (Rathdowney Errill), Conor Phelan (Castletown), Liam O’Connell (Rathdowney Errill).