LAOIS GAA Senior Club Football - Club-by-club guide to all the teams in this year's Championship

Rory Delaney

Reporter:

Rory Delaney

Email:

rory@leinsterexpress.ie

LAOIS GAA Senior Football Club Championship - Your club-by-club guide to all sixteen teams in this year's competition

Stradbally celebrate their SFC final success.

Can Portlaoise regain the Laois GAA Gaelic Football crown grabbed by Stradbally in 2016?

ARLES-KILCRUISE

Manager: John Irwin

Captain: Colm Munnelly

Main Man: David Conway

Team News: Dylan Waters and Alan McLoughlin are both doubtful with knee injuries. Patrick Conway hasn't played for a while, but Aidan Brennan has returned to fitness. David Lawlor and Mikey Wall are in the USA for the summer, and Jimmy McDonald will miss the first round.

League Form: Not great, winning five of 14 games in Division 1B, although they were missing a lot of players.

Prospects: With all of their big guns in tow, they will usually cause teams problems. Probably a team with their best days behind them though, so unlikely to be in the mix for honours.

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ARLES-KILLEEN

Manager: Eoin Kearns

Captain: Paul Kingston

Main Man: Donie Kingston

Team News: No injury worries to concern them at present, with the age profile of the team the only big concern.

League Form: Very disappointing, as it ended in relegation from Division 1A. Having played most of the campaign without the Kingston brothers, however, that puts things in perspective. With those two back in the line up, they are a different prospect entirely.

Prospects: With the form Donie Kingston has been in, they will make the last eight at the very least. With an ageing team, lacking depth, you'd worry that the same failings of the past will return again.

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BALLYFIN GAELS

Manager: Donncha Phelan

Captain: Louis Duff

Main Man: Sean Moore

Team News: Injury concerns over Darragh Connolly, who missed the start of the SHC 'A', but will be hoping to get back in time for Round 1 here. Ben Conroy is out with a shoulder problem.

League Form: Only won five of eleven games in ACFL Division 2, but were without Sean Moore and James Finn. With those two back in the fold, they are a more potent side now.

Prospects: If Finn and Moore are on form they should be able to avoid relegation trouble, but they more than likely won't be involved at the business end of the competition.

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BALLYLINAN

Manager: Paul Julian

Captain: Jamie Farrell

Main Man: Gary Walsh

Team News: Gary Walsh looks set to miss the opening game against Mountmellick with a knee injury picked up in training, but they hope to have him back after that. His brother, Padraig, recently underwent a knee operation, and is out for the year.

League Form: Won eleven of 14 games in ACFL Division 1B, seeing them into the final, where they proved too strong for Portarlington. Great preparation for the championship.

Prospects: With Gary Walsh gone, it makes things a lot harder. Were relegation fodder a few years ago, but they do have talent in their ranks, and shouldn't be in trouble.

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BALLYROAN ABBEY

Manager: Pat Ryan

Captain: Mark McDonald

Main Man: Padraig McMahon

Team News: Marty Scully is in Australia, while Scott Conroy returned to London after last year's championship. Conroy could potentiall return, but it remains to be seen if that happens.

League Form: Relegated from Division 1A, having only been promoted the year before. A very young side, though.

Prospects: Much will depend on whether Pat Ryan can get such a young panel ready for the rigours of the SFC. A bright future undoubtedly awaits Ballyroan Abbey, but they are still some way from competing for a senior championship, so survival for another year would do fine.

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CLONASLEE ST MANMAN'S GAELS

Manager: Jer Glavin

Captain: Glen McEvoy

Main Man: John Scully

Team News: It'll be interesting to see how the Annanough players bed in. No major injury concerns, but others will be watching on with interest to see how this experiment works out.

League Form: Neither team had much cause to cheer. Annanough were relegated from Division 1B, and Clonaslee won five of eleven games in Division 2.

Prospects: They might avoid relegation that bit easier this time around with the Annanough contingent, but it's hard to see them making an impact on the championship. Stranger things have happened, though.

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CRETTYARD GAELS

Manager: Sammy Kelly

Captain: Sean O'Shea

Main Man: Evan O'Carroll

Team News: Are joined up with Spink once again, although they will be missing Cha Dwyer, who is away travelling. Ciaran Hosey has retired from senior football too.

League Form: Poor. Finished in the bottom two in Division 1B, but managed to avoid relegation because Portlaoise had given two walkovers, so they made the drop in their place.

Prospects: Made the semi-finals last year, but early season form is a worry. Evan O'Carroll will be central to their hopes, along with Cormac Murphy, but Cha Dwyer will be a loss, as he was impressive at times last year.

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GRAIGUECULLEN

Manager: Padraig Clancy

Captains: Chris Hurley and James Bolton

Main Man: Ambrose Doran

Team News: All positive, for the most part, from Graiguecullen. They are missing Ross Alcock, who has been out for a long time with a knee injury. He is the only major concern, however.

League Form: Started strongly before a dip in form in the middle, and they then finished strongly again, losing only one of their last four games.

Prospects: A talented side, no doubt, they will be a source of interest purely for the fact that Padraig Clancy is at the helm. Can he be the one to unlock their potential? Should make the last eight at least.

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KILLESHIN

Manager: Mark O'Regan

Captain: Simon Attride

Main Man: Stephen Attride

Team News: They will be missing Arnie Mahon for the opening round, as he is out of the country. Barry Ryan has retired from senior football, while Eoin Lowry is trying to shake off a niggling injury.

League Form: A fairly good run in ACFL Division 1B which saw them finish in third place.

Prospects: They will be hoping the return of Eoin Lowry and Stephen Attride will give them a timely boost, but they haven't really made much of an impression in the SFC for a while now. That's unlikely to change this year, and a year without relegation would probably be a success.

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MOUNTMELLICK GAELS

Manager: Donie O'Mahony

Captain: Darren Fitzpatrick

Main Man: Colm Coss

Team News: All fairly positive on the injury front, as they don't expect to be missing anyone on that count. They will welcome Castletown trio Brendan Reddin and Ryan and James Mullaney also.

League Form: Topped the table in ACFL Division 2, where they went on to win the final, beating Courtwood.

Prospects: A league title is good preparation, but it was Division 2. A big jump awaits, although they will be really targeting Ballylinan in Round 1, Win that and they are safe, which is a good start.

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O'DEMPSEY'S

Manager: Peter Brady

Captain: Conor Meredith

Main Man: Míchael Finlay

Team News: Conor Meredith is out with a hand injury, but should return soon. Thomas Finlay is missing from last year, as is Bryan Meredith, with both men out of the country.

League Form: As good as could be expected. Were knocking around the top of the table all campaign, before getting the better of St Joseph's in the final.

Prospects: With no county players coming back in, the fear is they may have peaked already. It's not that long ago they should have beaten Portlaoise in a semi-final, so they have potential. An SFC title seems unlikely, however.

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PORTARLINGTON

Manager: Noel Coss

Captain: TBC

Main Man: Colm Murphy

Team News: It has all been fairly positive news on the injury front for Portarlington, who do not expect to be missing anyone for the first round.

League Form: Had a really good run in ACFL Division 1B, finishing joint top of the table with Ballylinan. That would prove to be the end of the good run though, as Ballylinan beat them in the final.

Prospects: Port have a habit of going well in the league, only to struggle in the championship. They run the risk of doing so again, but will be hope Colm Murphy can steer them to success. They have potential, but that's all it is at the moment.

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PORTLAOISE

Manager: Malachy McNulty

Captain: TBC

Main Man: Bruno McCormack

Team News: Brian Smyth and Brian Glynn will not be commuting from England this year, while Cahir Healy is a mjor doubt after injuring his knee with the hurlers at the weekend.

League Form: Played a skeleton team for much of the league, will a lot of lads playing in Division 1A and Division 1B. Still finished third, and probably should have been in the final.

Prospects: Will always be one of the favourites, regardless of what happened last year and the players they are missing. Their strength in depth means they should cope with the losses and still prosper.

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ST JOSEPH'S

Manager: Dessie Brennan

Captain: Tom Dunne

Main Man: Matthew Campion

Team News: Mick Keogh, Adam Campion, Danny Hickey, Cian Maher and Donal Ramsbottom are gone to the USA for the summer, while James Doyle and Kevin Campion are also missing, and Jason Campion is an injury doubt. Brian Daly has transferred in, however

League Form: Were going brilliantly until they lost all those young players. Lost the final in the end.

Prospects: Looked to be emerging as real contenders for most of the year, but after losing so many players, their momentum has been halted. It'll be very hard to get it back, so not looking as promising as it was.

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STRADBALLY

Manager: Michael Murphy

Captains: Colm Begley and Darren Maher

Main Man: Colm Begley

Team News: Darren Maher will miss the opening game against The Heath as he is suspended from the Leinster campaign last year. Tom Shiel is in the USA also, and will miss the early games.

League Form: No real consistency from them, as they won seven and lost seven.

Prospects: Surprise winners last year, they will obviously be going all out to repeat that this year. Haven't lost anyone from that team, but there is no surprise element to them this time. No reason to suggest they won't be in the mix again this year.

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THE HEATH

Manager: Donie Norton

Captain: Daithi Carroll

Main Man: Chris Bergin

Team News: Missing a lot of players from last year. Tony Connolly, Shane Carroll, Evin Keane, Jimmy Nerney and Mark Dowling are all out of the country, although Keane and Nerney should be back at some stage during the championship.

League Form: Coped fairly well with the loss of so many players, eventually finished fourth on scoring difference.

Prospects: After last year, survival is the immediate concern. After losing so many players they'll struggle to put themselves in a position to claim SFC honours, so just retaining their status might be enough.