Search

03 Oct 2022

Poll and Preview: Our view on the final 12 teams left in the Laois Senior Football Championship

Poll and Preview: Our view on the final 12 teams left in the Laois Senior Championship

Credit: Denis Byrne

Portarlington

Portlaoise

Graiguecullen

St Josephs

O'Dempseys

Stradbally

Ballyfin

Ballyroan

Rosenallis

Clonaslee

Courtwood

Park Ratheniska

In this weeks Leinster Express, we broke down the final twelve teams left in the Laois Senior Championship. Below you can see what we sadi about each of the teams, some key players, betting odds and a prediction. You can also have your say at the bootom of the article on who you think will take home the Jack Delaney Cup. 

Portarlington

Portarlington had a poor league for their standards. They had some very lacklustre performances against the likes of O’Dempseys and Graiguecullen. However, in the opening two games of the championship, they have turned that form on its head. In their opening game, they proved to everyone that they mean business this year again by racking up 2-23 albeit against a poor Arles Killeen team. Their second-round game was without a doubt the game of the championship so far. Portarlington and their neighbours O’Dempsey’s played out a cracker last weekend in O Moore Park that went right down to the wire. It was free-flowing, fast-paced and every player was fighting like a dog for every ball that came near them. It was a joy to watch. Portarlington will be delighted to come out on top of a real test like that this early in the championship. At this stage, the champions certainly look like the team to beat for whoever wants to bring home the Jack Delaney cup.

Key Players: Jake Foster, Rioghan Murphy, Stuart Mulpeter

Odds for championship: 11/10

Prediction: Portarlington look like they will be crowned champions again in 2022

 

Portlaoise

The 35-time winners certainly have not lit up O’Moore park in the 2022 season. They are playing a brand of football which is quite negative. 14 men behind the ball, retain possession, not much forward passing and quite lethargic and slow. That type of football works if you have the players to run at defences. Portlaoise did not feature in the winner's section of the league due to a poor campaign. They showed against Emo that they're lacking the cutting edge to break down even weak defensive structures. Substitute Ricky Maher was the only bright spot on the pitch that evening in what was a dull affair. Things slightly improved against courtwood in round two where there was a little bit more pace and hunger injected into their game. However, it is fair to say that out of the four teams that have already secured a quarter-final spot, Portlaoise looks like the team with the most to do if they are going to be crowned champions.

Key Players: Graham Brody, Ricky Maher, Kieran Lillis.

Odds for championship: 3/1

Prediction: A favourable draw might see them through to the semis, but that looks to be the ceiling at the moment

Graiguecullen

It's not too far a stretch to say Griguecullen could pose as Portarlingtons biggest challengers this season. They are the real dark horses having had a fantastic league and championship campaign so far in 2022. They went on an 11-game unbeaten run in the league before losing out to St Joseph’s in the final. That night manager Kevin Doogue, possibly the most passionate man in Laois, would not have been happy with some questionable referee decisions. Including one that saw Doogue himself sent to the stands. In the championship, they were too good for a fairly decent Clonaslee side in the opening round and then put in a fantastic display to convincingly beat a strong Stradbally side. The two games were two good tests for Graiguecullen and they passed both with room to spare. These two championship performances haven't gone unnoticed by the Mr Paddy Power either with their odds being more than halved from 8/1 down to 7/2 throughout the championship. Overall their very positive, have a really strong spine to the team and have arguably the best defence in Laois. No team will want to see their name beside Graiguecullen in the quarter-final fixtures.

Key Players: Mark Timmons, Lee Walker, Danny O Reilly.

Odds for championship: 7/2

Prediction: If they avoid Portarlington, a championship final appearance looks on the cards. Once you get to the final, anything can happen on the day.


St. Josephs

The league champions have been inconsistent. On their good days, they're impressive, on their bad days, not so much. Their full capabilities this year are a little bit unknown. In the closing stages of the league, they beat an uninterested Portarlington team, hammered five goals to beat Dempsey's well and then got more than their fair sure of luck against Graiguecullen in the final. In the championship, round 1 they beat one of the weakest sides in senior, Balylinan, albeit comprehensively and needed injury time to get over the line against a very average Ballyroan. The positives to be taken from that is that on two occasions, in the league final and round two, they have come out on top of close affairs. Mick Dempsey, St Joseph's manager, spent sixteen years as Brian Cody’s understudy in Kilkenny. Even when you interview Dempsey, you can see a sort of Cody influence within him. That alone suggests to me that it would be naive to completely write off this Josephs team. However, On the evidence we have to date, St Joesphs wouldn't stand out to you as real championship contenders.

Key Players: Michael Keogh, Oisin Hooney, Brain Daly

Odds for Championship: 9/1

Prediction: Semi-Final is the best-case scenario and could easily be found in the quarter-final.


O’Dempseys

The strongest team who has failed a quarter-final spot as of yet is without a doubt the Killinard side. They came out on the wrong side of an absolute cracker of a game between themselves and champions Portarlington. The Finlay brothers are a huge presence for them in the forwards. Matthew “Hatch” Finlay will always put in a huge performance and has decent accuracy on frees in his locker. His brothers Eoin and Micheal are instrumental inside him on the full forward line. Dempseys play enjoyable football and are a hungry outfit. They are efficient moving forward and will press high to put even the most talented players in the county under pressure. They have been without county star Mark Barry who has been abroad. It is believed that he will be back for the quarter-final and assuming Dempseys makes it that far, he will be a huge addition to have back in the team. First, they have to get past Park Ratheniska. Dempseys will more than likely have enough to get past probably one of the weakest teams still left in the twelve contenders.

Key Players: Mark Barry and the three Finlays.

Odds for championship: 9/1

Prediction: Despite having to go the long route, There is a really strong case for Dempseys to make a semi-final. At the minute they are probably the third-best team in the county.

Ballyroan

Ballyroan nearly caused a bit of an upset in round 2 by running league champions St Josephs very close. St Joseph’s and Ballyroan Abbey have got to know each other very well over the last few years in the Senior football championship so there was a bit of a rivalry already formed going into the match. They were of the back of an impressive win against Rosenalis where they raised the green flag on four occasions. In round three they will play Ballyfin who are full of confidence after defeating Emo. It looks on paper like it will be the most entertaining game of Round 3. This Ballyroan team impressed against St Joseph’s and I think the experience gained from that will be enough to see them through to the quarters. Draw dependent they may even cause a bit of an upset in the quarters as well.

Key Players: Padraig McMahon, Brian Whelan, Conor McWey.

Odds for championship: 20/1

Prediction: slight favourites to come out on top of what will be a tight encounter with Ballyifin. If they get there, they will give the quarter-final a right good rattle.


Stradbally

Stradbally have been a little bit disappointing in the opening two rounds. They haven’t really hit the promising form they showed during the 1B league. They got overturned in the 1B league final by Killeshin and since then they have looked like they are sleepwalking through the championship. Fair enough they had enough in hand to beat Ballyfin by six in the opening round, but keep in mind that Ballyfin were without Sean Moore that day who would have made a huge difference. Stradbally was comprehensively beaten by Graigecullen and although the opposition was impressive that day, it was a poor performance from the 2016 champions. They had good spells but the result that day never really looked in doubt. Stradbally might just be in for a rude awakening in round three and Clonaslee could have enough to provide an upset.

Key Players: Benny Lawlor, Colm Begley, Liam Knowles

Odds for championship: 33/1

Prediction: Expect to see a few Stradbally players wondering EP as a round three exit could be on the cards

Ballyfin

Ballyfin has been the surprise package of the last few years in the Laois championship. They were unlucky in round one to be missing star forward Sean Moore as they dropped to a six-point defeat to Stradbally. The return of Moore proved crucial in round two as he scored 2-8 of Ballyfins 2-12 total on the way to sending Emo to a relegation play-off. In round three they will face tough opposition in Ballyroan. It's a very hard game to call. It wouldn't be a surprise to see Ballyfin making it through this encounter given the form that Sean Moore is in. I do think however Ballyroan will have just enough in hand to see off Ballyfin as that performance against Josephs really stands out.

Key Players: Sean Moore, James Finn, Ciaran Culleton

Odds for championship: 40/1

Prediction: Ballyfin may come out on the wrong side of a tight battle with Ballyroan in round 3


Rosenallis

Last time out against Arles Kileen, Rosenallis went about their job efficiently and secured an 8-point victory over the 2014 finalists. In the first round Ballyroan put four goals past them and that was ultimately the difference on the day. For large parts of that opening fixture, Rosenallis actually looked the better side and the 11-point defeat probably isn't a fair reflection of the game. When Rosenallis get a bit of momentum and start putting scores on the board they can be hard stopped at times. Saying that however, they are realistically in the bottom three of the final twelve left. Luckily for them, they have drawn a team who are also in the bottom three, Courtwood. I do think Rosenallis have slightly the upper hand in this. Their composure on the ball and experience particularly with players like John O’Loughlin in the middle of the park should see them through this. If Rosenallis do make it past Courtwood, they're probably the team that most teams would like to play and it is very much likely that the quarters will be the end of the road for them.

Key Players: John O’Loughlin, Ronan Murray, Cathal Fennell.

Odds for championship: 50/1

Prediction: A round 3 win and a quarter-final exit for the Rosenallis men.


Clonaslee St Manmans

In the opening fixture Clonaslee put in a solid performance against championship contenders Graiguecullen. They were only beaten by four points in that game. A solid win in round 2 by the same margin against Ballylinan suggests to me that Clonaslee is on the right track. Clonaslee might not yet have what it takes to contest at the business end but it has been a solid year for them regardless. In round three they face the 17-time champions Stradbally. Stradbally will be hefty favourites but I think Clonaslee can pull off the shock of the championship here. There is something about their performance so far that show they are hungrier and more driven than their round three counterparts. A quarter-final place however is probably as far as Clonaslee can take it as they will likely be found out of their depth in the final eight should they get there.


Key Players: Willie Young, Bob Downey, Niall Corbett.

Odds for Championship: 66/1

Prediction: A shock win over Stradbally will see them through to a well-deserved quarter-final spot.


Courtwood

Courtwood would have been happy enough drawing against Rosenallis. They also would have been happy to see many of the dual Rosenallis stars have a tough battle against Borris in Ossory Kilcotten this past weekend in the hurling. A win over new boys Park Ratheniska was a nice way to start the championship. But there's nothing suggesting that they can mix it with the big contenders. They're in out-of-depth territory right now and we think a round-three exit against Rosenallis is probably likely.

Key Players: Niall Donoher, Paul O’Flynn, Michael Doyle.

Odds for Champiosnhip: 66/1

Prediction: Round 3 Exit at the hands of Rosenallis


Park Ratheniska

The new boys did well to get the win over Killeshin last time out. Their aim coming into the championship this year would have been to retain senior status. Let's not overanalyse this though, O’Dempseys will be far too good for them in round three. Fair Deuce to Park Ratheniska for making it to round three in their opening season. A good showing in their first year back.


Key Players: Colm Brennan, Padraig Dunne, James Connelly.

Odds for Championship: 80/1

Prediction: Will do well to get within six or seven points of Dempseys in round 3

Below you can have your say on who you think will win the 2022 Laois Senior Football Championship

 

To continue reading this article,
please subscribe and support local journalism!


Subscribing will allow you access to all of our premium content and archived articles.

Subscribe

To continue reading this article for FREE,
please kindly register and/or log in.


Registration is absolutely 100% FREE and will help us personalise your experience on our sites. You can also sign up to our carefully curated newsletter(s) to keep up to date with your latest local news!

Register / Login

Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.

Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.