Portlaoise, Graiguecullen, The Heath and St Conleth's represent Laois at All-Ireland Football Féile

Andrew Egan

Reporter:

Andrew Egan

Email:

sport@leinsterexpress.ie

Last weekend saw four clubs from Laois embark on one of the most exciting weekends on the GAA calendar - the All-Ireland Football Féile finals.

Laois were represented by St Conleth's, Portlaoise, Graiguecullen and The Heath, all of whom secured top two finishes in their respective groups, qualifying them for the knockout stages.

Below is a run down on how each club fared over the weekend.

(If you have any more pictures to add to our gallery above, please e-mail them to rory@leinsterexpress.ie)

---

PORTLAOISE

Portlaoise were looking to carry on their success from previous years at the Féile, as they entered Division 2.

The Town were drawn in a group with South London, Cumann Pheadoir Naofa and Mayobridge.They would finish second.


Group games


Cumann Pheadair Naofa 0-5 Portlaoise 4-5

The Portlaoise team started brightly with a four-goal win over Down side Cumann Pheadair Naofa


South London 1-6 Portlaoise 1-2

Portlaoise's next game was against a strong South London outfit, and it was a tight contest for much of the game, but South London had that little bit extra to beat Portlaoise by four points.


Mayobridge 1-1 Portlaoise 7-6

Portlaoise came into the final group game knowing only a win will do, and they produced their best performance of the campaign to advance with a comfortable victory over the competition's hosts.


Quarter-final


St Patrick's, Donabate 1-6 Portlaoise 0-5

St Patrick's, Donabate had topped their group, so coming into this Portlaoise were seen as underdogs. The Laois side performed bravely, but they suffered a blow when they got a man sent off, and that swung the tide in the opposition's favour.

A large panel was brought down to Mayobridge for the weekend, and Portlaoise, as they've done in Feile's in recent times, performed bravely throughout, and both games that they lost were competitive. Mentors Joe O'Callaghan, David Brown and James Timmons will no doubt be proud of the young players, and they will be heavy favourites to win Laois underage championships in the coming years.

---

GRAIGUECULLEN


Graiguecullen entered the Division 5 Féile, and they were the club that managed to get the furthest out of all the Laois teams to enter. A large Graiguecullen faithful travelled to see the young lads in action, and they did not leave disappointed.

The Carlow border side were drawn in a group with Glencar-Manorhamilton, Liatroim and Sabhail Naomh Pádraig.They would go on to top that group, winning all three games.


Group games


Liatroim 3-3 Graiguecullen 4-6

Liatroim proved to be a tough opening test for Graiguecullen, as they were forced to come from behind to win this one. This difficult match-up would prove to help Graiguecullen get up to the pace for games to come.


Graiguecullen 3-5 Glencar-Manorhamilton 2-4

Glencar-Manorhamilton from Co. Leitrim proved to be another tricky tie for Graiguecullen, and they would end up qualifying in second place in the group. However, Graiguecullen pulled through in the end to win by four and book their place in the quarter-finals.


Sabhail Naomh Pádraig 0-5 Graiguecullen 6-11

With qualfication already confirmed, it was a case of whether Graiguecullen would top the group or place second. The Down outfit couldn't match the physicality of the Graiguecullen side, and the Laois representatives continued their perfect start.


Quarter-final


Graiguecullen 3-6 Ballinora 4-1

Graiguecullen's quarter-final opponent was Ballinora from Cork, and this proved to be a very tight contest. With the sides level heading into the closing stages, leaders were needed to come through this one. The Graiguecullen team stepped up to the plate just in time, none more than full back Conor Harte who carried ball after ball out of defence.


Semi-Final


Graiguecullen 1-0 Ballinderry 2-8

Derry outfit Ballinderry were what standed in the way of Graiguecullen and a place in the final. However, they would not get past them, as Ballinderry proved to be very well organised and ran out comfortable winners.


Graiguecullen had a number of stars breaking out over the weekend, with Jack Byrne and Jamie Murphy providing the main scoring threats. Scott Roycroft did well, while Conor Harte was fearless in defence.

---

THE HEATH

For the first time in ten years, a team from The Heath headed to the National Féile weekend, where they competed in Division 10. They competed in a group with Slane, Blackhall Gaels (their host club) and St Manchan's Gaels from Offaly.


Group games


The Heath 1-6 Slane 0-6

The Heath opened with a game against Slane, and 1-2 from the impressive Brian Keane helped them into a 1-4 to 0-3 lead against a good Slane side. In a tough match, that start stood to The Heath, who ran out 1-6 to 0-6 winners.


The Heath 1-2 St Manchans Gaels

Next up was St Manchan's Gaels, and the Offaly men got off to a flying start, taking a 1-4 to 0-1 lead at half time time. Brian Keane got The Heath's point, while Mikey Daly was working tirelessly in midfield, and Dylan Keyes made a number of excellent saves between the posts.

The second half saw The Heath improve and they got a goal back through John McNamara to get back into it. However, St Manchan's hit 1-1 in injury time to eventually secure a deserved win on a scoreline of 2-5 to 1-2.


Blackhall Gaels 2-4 The Heath 4-4

In their third game they played their host club Blackhall Gaels. The Heath started well and went 0-2 to 0-1 ahead, but Blackhall Gaels then got a goal against the run of play and lead 1-3 to 0-3 at half time.

The Heath made a tactical move at the break and moved Jack Ahern into the forwards and he made an instant impact with a brilliant goal. Paddy Fitzpatrick added two more goals and The Heath ran out deserving winners in the end, 4-4 to 2-4, with Fitzpatrick having scored 2-3.


Quarter-final


The Heath 1-2 O'Brien's Foreglen 1-4

Next up for The Heath was a trip to Lordship on the Cooley Peninsula, where there would take on O'Brien's Foreglen from Derry in their quarter-final.

An early goal and point from Alex Bennett got The Heath off to a great start, and they lead 1-2 to 0-2 at half time. However, O'Brien's Foreglen responded strongly in the second half and eventually ran out 1-4 to 1-2 winners.

---

ST CONLETH'S


St Conleth's entered the Division 2 Féile. The girls would finish second in a group with New York, Clonduff and Burren.


Group games


Clonduff 0-1 St Conleth's 2-7

The St Conleth's girls opened thir campaign with a solid win over Down side Clonduff, and all they required now was one more victory and they would seal their qualification.


St Conleth's 0-2 New York 1-6

St Conleth's came up against New York next, and this proved a bridge too far. They had a lot of the ball in the opening ten minutes, but couldn't get the scores necessary, and New York found their rhythm to win by seven.


Burren 1-1 St Conleth's 3-3

St Conleth's needed a victory in this one, and managed to come through in what was a hard-fought and tense affair.


Quarter-final

Kilcullen 4-6 St Conleth's 1-1

They came up against Kilcullen from Co.Louth in the quarter-finals, and they came up short. Kilcullen were on top for most of the game, despite the St Conleth's girls digging deep to try to get something out of the game.A goal at the start of the second half looked like it might spark a comeback, but Kilcullen grasped back control.


Travelling with a panel of 22, they suffered a couple of injuries along the way which didn't help their chances. However, every panel member that was used contributed to the excellent team work ethic.