Half of the Laois senior football clubs are still waiting to appoint managers for the coming season, as the race to find the men to mastermind an end to Portlaoise's dominance of the club championship goes on.
Arles-Kilcruise, who have lost out to Portlaoise in the last two SFC finals, are expected to confirm the re-appointment of Mick Byrne this weekend. He was due to be confirmed at their AGM last weekend, but the meeting ran on longer than expected and is scheduled to be finished this weekend. If he does return, as expected, for a third year in charge, it will make him the longest serving current manager in the county. Arles-Kilcruise's neighbours, Arles-Killeen, have not yet found a replacement for Nicky McGrath, with chairman Sean Byrne confirming the club hope to have an appointment made within the next two weeks.
Last year's intermediate champions Timahoe are also on the lookout for a new manager after it was confirmed that Tony Maher would not be returning for a fourth year at the helm. Maher had guided Timahoe to a senior final appearance in his first year back in 2008, before seeing the relegated the following year. He stayed on to guide them back to senior in 2010, reaching a Leinster IFC semi-final also, where they lost out to Kildare champions Ballymore Eustace. Recently elected chairman Dick Miller confirmed his replacement is likely to come from within the club.
Ballylinan are one side who have their managerial position filled though, with former player James Loughman taking charge for 2011 after acting as a selector last year. Clonaslee have not yet replaced Mick Lawlor, while Crettyard have appointed former Carlow footballer Willie Quinlan to replace Martin Kelly. Quinlan played for Carlow up until recently, and has previous management experience with Kildavin-Clonegal in Carlow, as well as Eire Og juvenile teams.
Gabriel Lawlor's tenure as Emo manager has also come to an end, with Paddy Brophy the most likely candidate to replace him, having worked alongside Lawlor for the last few years. Mountmellick are also searching for a replacement for Jarlath Challoner, who stepped in on an interim basis last year, with club chairman Michael Gormley confirming they hope to be in a position to make an announcement at this Sunday's AGM, to coincide with the opening of their new clubhouse.
Both O'Dempsey's and Graiguecullen have retained their managers from last year, with Eddie Kelly and Paul Bealin staying on for a second year. Portarlington's search for Seamus Hunt's replacement is ongoing, while Stradbally and The Rock are also in the process of sourcing new managers. Portlaoise have already appointed Mick Lillis and Mark Kavanagh, while Noel Donlon will return for another year with The Heath. St Joseph's also have a manager in place for the coming season, with Tommy Garvan, father of Noel, replacing PJ Dempsey.
The full list of appointments is as follows -
Arles-Kilcruise - Mick Byrne (3rd Year)
Arles-Killeen - Vacant
Ballylinan - James Loughman (1st Year)
Clonaslee St Manman's - Vacant
Crettyard - Willie Quinlan (1st Year)
Emo - Vacant
Graiguecullen - Paul Bealin (2nd Year)
Mountmellick - Vacant
O'Dempsey's - Eddie Kelly (2nd Year)
Portarlington - Vacant
Portlaoise - Mick Lillis and Mark Kavanagh (1st Year)
St Joseph's - Tommy Garvan (1st Year)
Stradbally - Vacant
The Heath - Noel Donlon (2nd Year)
The Rock - Vacant
Timahoe - Vacant
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