The Football Glory Years 1930 - 1946
The Football Glory Years 1930 - 1946
by Jackie Hyland
The main talking point at the annual convention on 2 February 1930 was the senior hurling final. Portlaoise withdrew from the final after the refusal of the president to entertain an application for a grant in aid for an injured player. The issue was finalized at a meeting of the board on Sunday 6 April when a proposal that Kilcotton be awarded the 1929 SHC was accepted. The JF championship of 1929 carried over into '30 with most of the championship played that year. Mountmellick won the semi-final on 29 June against Castletown.
After winning in July, Mountmellick had to wait for a board meeting in August to be confirmed as champions following an objection. Rory Oge O' Moores were minor hurling champions for 1929 with Kellyville taking the football equivalent.
The adult affiliations to Laois County Board for 1930 were Senior Hurling Durrow, Clonad, Ballacolla, Cullohill, Rathdowney, Ballygeehan, Kilcotton, Abbeyleix, and Castletown. Senior Football Portarlington, Ballyroan, Graiguecullen, Abbeyleix Loughtegue, Annanough, Stradbally, Junior hurling, Ballypickas A, Ballypickas B, Mountmellick, Derrykearn, Ballyfin, Durrow, Clonad, Ballacolla, Cullohill, Portarlington, Ballygeehan, Camross, Errill, Rathdowney, Kilcotton, Abbeyleix, Kyle, Castletown, Padraig Pearse, Mountrath, Clonaslee. Junior Football: Mountmellick, Portarlington, Rathdowney, Kilcotton, Graiguecullen, Abbeyleix, Heath, Emo, Castletown, Ballypickas, Kellyville, Stradbally, Pallas, Timahoe, Newtown.
The chairman Mr. Brady made an appeal for the revival of old clubs, The Hollow, Clonkeen and Raheenabrogue who did not affiliate this year. Both senior championships and the juniors were not completed by year end. Stradbally won the only final played, the senior football Feis Final in which they defeated Graiguecullen 2-6 to 0-3 on 15 June.
The senior football championship for '30 was the first to be completed on 22 March. Stradbally led Graiguecullen 2-5 to 0-1 at HT holding out to win three in a row 2-5 to 2-3. In junior football the curtain raiser to the senior final had to be postponed because of a draw between Abbeyleix and Ballypickas. Abbeyleix advanced and lost the semi-final to the Heath 2-3 to 0-3 on 10 May. The final was played at Stradbally on 7 June and resulted in a win for the Heath 2-4 to Kellyville 2-2. In minor football Emo took the title over Wolfhill played mid year.
In the senior hurling final Clonad made the break through beating Ballygeehan taking their first title on 28 June 1931. The county chairman Loran Brady was full back and captain of the team. Mountmellick took junior hurling honors beating Kyle in the final. In minor grade Kilcotton took the hurling title.
On the inter county scene Laois hurlers advanced to the Leinster final beating Dublin by two points 2-2 to 1-3 on 21 June losing to Kilkenny 4-7 to 4-2 on 2 August. In football Kildare beat Laois by a point 2-4 to 1-6 on 31 May at Portlaoise. The senior football championship being played on group/league basis had three groups. In the draw Annanough, Stradbally and Graiguecullen were drawn together, both the big guns beat Annanough and it took three games to separate Graigue and Stradbally. After two draws the decider on 25 October saw Graigue victorious 1-5 to 1-2. The Heath and Mountmellick both beat Pallas and the game between the Heath and Mountmellick became a semi- final.
The game on 4 October resulted in a Heath win 2-1 to nil. The final between the Heath and Graiguecullen took place on15 November. Graiguecullen were overwhelming favorites and this reflected in the gate down to £20-0-3. The Heath almost caused a sensation in their second final in five months leading 0-3 to 0-1 at half time. Price scored the equalizer for Graigue to level 0-4 to 0-4. Stradbally had taken Feis football honors beating Ballyroan on 15 June.
The year is remembered as the year of the "Congress". The Congress holds a special place in Irish history. The 31st international Eucharist Congress was held in Dublin 19-26 June to celebrate the 1500th anniversary of the beginning of St. Patrick's Christianising mission in Ireland. The continued lateness in completing the championship was a hot topic at the county convention. Not one of the Laois 1931 finals had been decided, Clonad, Derrykearn, Ballytegan, Annanough and Stradbally wanted the "championship begun and finished earlier".
The two delayed senior finals of 1931 were first to be decided. In football an ill prepared Heath short Redmond lost the replay to Graigue 3-7 to 0-0. in senior hurling Clonad lost their title to Rathdowney by two points 2-3 to 1-4 on 17 April. The other carry over titles were won by Portarlington JF beating Stradbally, with Abbeyleix taking both minor titles hurling and football.
The Feis football final played at the Laois Feis on 29 May was won by Stradbally 3-5 to 1-4 for the Heath. The Feis competitions played early in the season were very popular with the clubs almost rivaling the senior championship during this period. The feats of the Laois minor footballers of 1932 attracted a great deal of attention the team qualifying to play Kerry in the All Ireland final.
The progress to the All Ireland final was round 1: 15 May at Portarlington Laois 2-9, Kildare 1-10, round 2: AT Portlaoise 12 June Laois 2-3 Westmeath 2-1. Leinster final at Croke Park, 7 August, Laois 3-2, Louth 1-7. team for Leinster Final E. Roche (Knockbeg), M. Hyland, W. Troy (Heath), J. Nolan (Emo) J. Hinchin, M.Cahill (Abbeyleix), S. Short, W Delaney (Stradbally) S. Harkins (Portlaoise), J. J. Delaney (Belcamp), T. Keogh (Ballybrittas), J. Meehan (Knockbeg), M. Fanning (Ballyroan), Subs: P. Mulhall (Ballyroan), R. Reilly (Portarlington), J. Kelly (Ballyfoyle), P. Cullen (Portlaoise), A. Lambe (Heath), N. Cranny (Ballypickas).
On 14 August Laois beat Antrim 2-3 to 1-3 at Dundalk, but Kerry were too strong at Roscrea on 18 September winning 3-8 to 1-3. Both Senior Championships made progress during the Summer and were completed before years end. In senior football, Stradbally got their game versus Graiguecullen, Graigue not traveling because the game was fixed for the unenclosed Loughtegue pitch. Ballyroan did not travel for their game against Stradbally claiming heavy showers prevented them.
Portarlington qualified for the final beating the Heath in the semi-final. The final on 23 October had an abrupt end Stradbally led 1-8 to 0-3 when a dispute over a goal led to Portarlington walking off the pitch. The game was awarded to Stradbally. In senior hurling Clonad and Abbeyleix qualified for the final played 13 November at Portlaoise. Final score Abbeyleix 2-4, Clonad 1-2. Abbeyleix team: J. Bergin(Capt), J. Delaney(Goal), J. Cummins, P. Bergin, J O' Brien, J. Phelan, J. Holland, M. Hopper, J. Carroll, Jim Fitzpatrick, K. Drennan, C. Dunphy, M. Grant, B. Mc Donnell, J. Lodge.
Abbeyleix had further success that year taking the Feis hurling title for the secondyear in a row and the junior football honors. Errill are credited with JH honors for 1932.
In the SH Championship 13 teams entered Clonad, Ballypickas, Mountmellick, Durrow, Errill, Attanagh, Rathdowney, Kilcotton, Ballygeehan, Portlaoise, Ballacolla, Camross and Abbeyleix. As usual the Feis competitions opened the years programme, the Heath advanced to their third final in a row, beating Mountmellick 2-6 to 1-2 and Ballyroan 1-5 to 0-2. Stradbally again provided the opposition winning their third in a row 2-5 to 1-2 on 18 June.
In the championship the Heath defeated Loughteague and Ballyroan 2-5 to 1-1 the forth team in the group was Graiguecullen. The referee W.Hogan (Graiguecullen) reported the Heath for being late against Loughteague resulting in the loss of points for the Heath. Graigue defeated the Heath to qualify for the final. Stradbally beat Abbeyleix 6-7 to 1-1 Mountmellick 4-5 to 1-2 and Portarlington in the semi-final.
The final one of the best in years saw Stradbally record an other win on a score 3-2 to 1-6 for Graigue. In SH Clonad advanced from a group including Ballypickas and Mountmellick. Errill beat Abbeyleix 1-5 to 1-3 in the semi- final. Abbeyleix objected and were awarded the game however Errill appealed to The Leinster Council and were re-installed. The final was fixed for 15 October. Clonad were easy winners 5-3 to 0-2 for Errill. Clonad: Lar Brady (Capt), W. Conroy (Goalie), M. Nolan, A. Bergin, E. Bergin, E.Hennessey, P. Fitzgibbons, J. Conroy, J. Galvin, D. Griffin, P. Whelan, J. Fitzgibbons, P. Whelan, T. Lalor, P. Norton, E. Burke, J. Moore and M. Daly. In junior hurling Clonaslee took the honors for 1933 with Ballylinan defeating Portlaoise in the JFC Final.
On the inter county scene the senior footballers lost to Kildare by 11 points after a earlier draw. The minors again advanced to the Leinster final with wins over Kildare, Longford, Wexford, before
losing by 10 points to Dublin. The junior hurlers had a long campaign beating Carlow 4-8 to 5-7 on 23 July and in the Leinster Final at Portlaoise on 6 August Kilkenny were defeated 3-8 to 4-2. In the All Ireland semi-final on 27 August Tipperary beat Laois 7-1 to 3-2. The Laois JH panel: P. Doheny, M. Hennessey, J. Carter, J.Mc Evoy, G. West, G. Hertherington, M. Cronin, M. J. Campion, A.
Mc Evoy, P. Hennessey, P. Flynn, M. Walsh, R. McGee, M. Troy, Paddy Sweeney, James Coss, J. Kavanagh, M. Delaney, J. Whelan, E. O'Duff, Dan Coss and F. Jones.
The county convention opened activities in Laois for the Golden Jubilee year of 1934. The meeting on 28 January returned the outgoing officers unopposed. President Mr. L. Brady, Vice President Mr. E. P. Tarrant, Secretary Mr. J. Drennan, Treasurer Mr. R. O'Keefe. Leinster Council Delegates Mr. J. Delaney, Mr. P. Daly. The balance sheet presented by Mr. R O' Keefe showed an excess of income
over expenditure of £47-6-4. Income £960-14-0, Expenditure £913-7-8. At the Leinster Convention held on 18 February Mr. Bob O'Keefe was returned for his eleventh year as president of the Leinster Council. On the same day the Laois Camogie Board held their convention with twelve out of fifteen clubs represented. Elected were President Rev. J. O' Brien C. C. Vice President Miss McKenna, Mountrath; Secretary, Miss K. Hyland, Treasurer, Miss E. Behan; Delegates to Congress, Misses Hyland and Bradshaw.
The adjourned convention resumed on 11 March. Mr. L. Brady thanked the delegates for the signal honor they had conferred upon him in re-electing him as President in this the jubilee year of the association. He hoped with the cooperation of the Gaels of Laois to reach the goal of their ambition- "to make Ireland free and Gaelic".
Thirteen teams entered the Feis hurling while the Feis football draw was Loughteague v Heath, Stradbally v Graiguecullen. On 8 April, Ballylinan took JFC honors for 1933 beating Portlaoise 3-5 to 1-2, on the following Sunday the delayed 1933 JHC final was played Clonaslee 2-9 Abbeyleix 4-1.
The May meeting of the county committee made the draws for the 1934 championship. It is interesting to note the clubs that have ceased to exist since. All the senior hurling clubs still exist, the causalities from the junior ranks are: Young Emmets, Derrydavy, Rapla, St Canices, Cuddagh, Boley, Derrykearn, Coolrain, Attanagh, St Brigids, Clonkeen, Cappagh, Rushall, Kyledellig, Knock and Luggacurren
plus Paddock minors.
In Football no longer with us are Loughteague, Clonmeen, Knock Rovers, O'Moores, Kellyville O'Moores Forest, Ballybrittas, Wolfhill, Ballyfoyle, some few of the above were dual clubs.
The meeting of reigning All Ireland Champions Kilkenny with Laois at Nowlan Park on 27 May aroused great interest. Laois went into an early lead of 5 points and after 17 minutes led by 12 points. Kilkenny with Lowry Meagher and Mattie Power to the fore gained the lead to win 3-7 to 4-2 Green Flag in the "Irish Press" though Laois might have erred in allowing their offensive becoming a defensive.
The Heath disposed of Loughteague on the third attempt to qualify for the annual joust with Stradbally and the same result another Feis for Stradbally. In the hurling Feis final on the same day 10 June Clonad 3-3 played a draw with Rathdowney 2-6. the replay on 19 August resulted in a Rathdowney win 3-2 to 2-3.
On the inter county scene the hurlers certainly led the way in the jubilee year. Coupled with a good senior display, the juniors contested the Leinster Final but the minors were the team to make the headlines. On 8 July at Portlaoise Offaly were beaten 5-4 to 3-0. In the Leinster Final on 12 August at Portlaoise Laois and Dublin minors were the curtain riser to the senior final Kilkenny v Dublin. The Laois minors were easy winners over Dublin 8-4 to 2-0. The senior final was drawn Kilkenny 4-2, Dublin 2-8. In the semi- final at Drogheda Laois had a record win 17- 10 to 2-1 for Down on 26 August.
The All Ireland final versus Tipperary was a week later. Laois got off to a lively
start and led 2-3 to 2-1 at halftime. The score stood Laois 3-5, Tipperary 3-3 with the game almost over. Almost but not quite "Laois led by a couple of points till the closing minutes and then Tipperary got a goal that many at the game thought should never have been allowed, as it was the opinion over the end" and was brought into play to be then "pitched" into the net by a player who was inside the square".
It was considered beyond question the best minor final yet seen and the losers were worth another chance or even a win on the field. It was claimed the goal was scored
in the seventh minute of injury time and that Tipperary used eight subs. Public opinion ran high in the county at the controversial end to proceedings. An objection was lodged by Laois but later withdrawn. Team: J. Mc Cabe, F. O'Connor, W. Brophy, W. O' Neill, J. Ring, A. Bergin, F. Maloney, P. Ruschitizo, J. Kelly, T. Carroll, J. Hyland, M. Cahill, W. Delaney, P. Ferrell, P. Connolly, Subs: E. Matthews, R. Mc Evoy, M. Barrett, J. Geoghegan, T. McEvoy.
Stradbally and Graiguecullen being the only clubs to opt to remain in senior grade met in the final on 30 September. All the other clubs entered the new Intermediate Championship set up following a motion to convention by Portarlington. The 1933 MFC final preceded the SFC game and resulted in a win for Graiguecullen 3-2 to 2-2 for Ballybrittas. In one of the poorest games between the sides Stradbally won 1-6 to 0-2 for Graiguecullen.
In the senior hurling Clonad beat Rathdowney 3-4 to 1-0 in semi-final. Abbeyleix had come out of a group including Durrow, Ballacolla and Ballypickas. The final on 11 November aroused great interest both anxious to secure the premier honor in jubilee year. At HT Clonad led to 1-1 to 0-3 but Abbeyleix ran out winners 2-5 to 2-3. Bob O' Keefe was referee.
After an earlier scoreless draw Emo and Luggacurren replayed the 1934 Camogie final at Vicarstown on December 9th. Scores were level at half time a goal each. Emo added two goals in the second to win 3-0 to 1-0 amid great rejoicing by their supporters. The junior championship were still in full swing at years end the intermediate were much delayed.
On the intercounty hurling scene Laois had quite a good year in 1935. In the first round in Mullingar on 2 June, Meath were well beaten Laois 6-7, Meath 3-3. Two weeks late at Athy, Laois 5-1 and Dublin 3-7 drew. In the replay at Birr on 14 July Laois had two points to spare 3-5 to 2-6 for Dublin. In the Leinster final at Portlaoise on 21 July Kilkenny were eleven points better. Kilkenny 3-8 Laois 0-6. In the Ireland Final on 1 September Kilkenny beat Limerick 2-5 to 2-4.
A full back log of fixtures remained to be completed from the jubilee year. Abbeyleix beat Ballylinan at Loughteague on 24 March to reach the intermediate football final. The Heath had qualified in October '34 beating Mountmellick. The final on 5 May resulted in a Heath win 1-3 to 0-2 for Abbeyleix. However Abbeyleix objected and at a board meeting on 23 May were awarded the title as two of the Heath were not registered according to rule.
In the JFC both semi-finals were played at Loughteague on 12 May. Clonad winning over oughteague 5-4 to 3-1 and Ballybrittas beating Annanough 3-2 to 1-2. In the JFC final for 1934 at O' Moores Park on 19 May Lar Brady scored two points in Clonad's 0-4 to 0-2 win over Ballybrittas.
On the same programme Derrydavy defeated Boley 4-4 to 3-3 in the JHC semi final, Clonad also qualified for the JHC final beating Castletown 3-4 to 1-2 on 2 June.
On 4 August Derrydavy won the 1934 JHC final beating Clonad 2-3 to 1-1. On the same bill Park were winners over Mountrath in the 1934 MFC final.
In the 1935 SFC Stradbally were drawn to play Abbeyleix in a semi-final with Graigue straight into the final on 18 August. Graiguecullen had defeated Stradbally 1-6 to 0-3 in the Feis final on 18 August. Stradbally were unable to field out for their semi- final on 8 September. A depleted Stradbally lost to Abbeyleix 0-4 to 0-2 on 29 September. Graigue took the title a week later Graigue 4-1 Abbeyleix 1-5.
In 1935 Robert O' Keefe became president of the GAA serving until 1938. 1936 Ballybrittas won the IFC for 1935 beating Clonad at O'Moore Park on 23 March 1936, 3-2 to 0-1. On the previous Sunday Clonad had regained the SHC for 1935 beating Rathdowney 7-3 to 1-5. Portlaoise took the IHC for 1935 with Mountmellick beating Rapla for the junior hurling honors '35 on 5 July 1936. Portlaoise took their second '35 title the junior football championship.
The Feis football final for 1936 on 21 June was the first title to be decided Stradbally 2-3 Graiguecullen 1-2. Stradbally qualified for the SFC final beating Portarlington and Portlaoise 2-5 to 0-2 on 28 October. Graigue were held up on the other side of the draw because of the beet campaign
their semi-final not being decided until '37. Clonad and Annanough qualified for the IFC final played on 31 October. Clonad were late in taking the field but won on a score 1-1 to 0-2 for Annanough. The referees report on the IFC final was considered at the December board meeting with Mr. P. Campion in the chair. Clonad were late on the field their excuse was genuine and Annanough agreed to a replay which was held in '37. Graiguecullen's second string took JFC honors.
In the senior hurling championship, Rathdowney beat Clonad at the end of August 4-4 to 2-6 in the semi-final. The other side of the draw became complicated when Kilcotton claimed that Errill should have lost the points in their group with Mountrath. An appeal to Leinster Council upheld the Kilcotton view. A replay between Errill and Kilcotton was necessary. This game did not take place until 1937 to allow tempers cool. Clonaslee took intermediate hurling honors.
The thirties will be forever remembered as the Golden Age of Laois Football. The long awaited breakthrough in Leinster occurred in 1936 and now seventy years after the long and oft related memories linger on. With a backbone from the Stradbally club and strong support from Graiguecullen Laois blazed a never to be forgotten trail. It is not intended in these notes to into any detail (this has been done by T. Fennelly in Ninety Years of GAA in Laois) other than record the games and team line outs of the period.
Leinster Senior Football Championship 1936
At Athy 28 June Laois 4-5 Offaly 3-4
Final Croke Park 19 July Laois 3-3 Kildare 0-8
All Ireland Semi-Final Croke Park 23 August Laois 2-6 Cavan 1-5
All Ireland Final Croke Park 27 September Mayo 4-11 Laois 0-5
Leinster Final Team: T. Delaney, J. Brennan, T. Delaney, T. O'Brien, P. Swayne, J. McDonald, D. Walsh, C. Delaney, W. Delaney, D. Douglas, M. Delaney, J. Delaney, J. Keating, T. Keogh, J. O'Reilly
The 1936 SFC final finally came off on the 2 May and resulted Stradbally 2-10 Graiguecullen 3-5. Stradbally had a repeat victory this time in the Feis Final on 27 June 0-7 to 0-2. The SHC final for 1936 featured as a double bill with the '36 football and Rathdowney had five goals to spare 6-5 to 1-5 for Kilcotton. The intermediate football final replay '36 took place on 25 May with Annanough victors on this occasion 0-10 to 0-8 for Clonad.
In the SHC three groups were drawn, 3 teams in groups A and Group B, with 4 in Group C. The winners of Groups A and B to meet in a semi-final with group C straight into the final. Clonad beat Portlaoise 2-4 to 0-6 to qualify for the final while Abbeyleix disposed of Errill in the semi- final,
In the Final Clonad 2-7 beat Abbeyleix 2-1. The senior football championship was much delayed because of the success of the Laois team. Stradbally had qualified for the final with victories over Ballyroan and Portlaoise. On the other side Graiguecullen and Annanough qualified for the semi-final which again had to be postponed because of the beet campaign. In the IFC Ballybrittas and Clonad qualified for the final which was held over until '38 because of Clonad's hurling involvement. Ballylinan were the junior football champions.
Leinster Football Championship 1937
Newbridge 16 May Laois 2-6 Offaly 1-9
Athy replay 30 May Laois 2-7 Offaly 1-7
Carlow 11 July Laois 2-10 Kildare 2-7
Croke Park Final 25 July Laois -12 Louth 0-4
All Ireland semi Final Cork 15 August Kerry 2-3 Laois 1-6
Replay Waterford 29 August Kerry 2-2 Laois 1-4
Team Leinster Final: M. Farrell, J. Brennan, T. Delaney, D. Walsh, C. Delaney, M. Delaney, J. Slater, J. Delaney, W. Delaney, D. Douglas, T. Murphy, S. Horkins, M. Haughney, T. Keogh, J. Mc Darby.
The year was dominated by The Laois senior football teams American tour and the Leinster Championship campaign. The all Ireland finalist of '37 were invited to play a series of exhibition games in the United States early in 1938. Kerry were unable to travel and nominated Laois as their replacements. Twenty players were selected to travel together with Lorcan Brady Chairman of the Board and Jack Delaney Snr. As team manager. Laos players on the trip J Delaney(Capt), M. Farrell T. Walsh, M. Delaney, P. Swayne, J. Slater, W. Delaney, C. Delaney, T. Murphy, D. Douglas, J. Mc Dorby, M. Haughney, E. Begley, R. Rankins, J. Mc Donald, S. Horkin, J. Conway, and J. Brennan.
The players travelled on the SS Manhattan on a trip that lasted from 12 May until 8 June. The team loosened up with games in Boston and The Polo Grounds New York, before meeting Cavan All Ireland Finalists for '37. The game was drawn Laois 1-4 Cavan 0-7. in the replay Laois were easy winners 3-6 to 0-4. The two trophies won on tour, the Jameson Trophy became the property of the Stradbally club and the Healy Cup became the property of Graiguecullen.
The Leinster Championship commenced 3 July Laois 2-5 Louth 2-2 at Croke Park, a week later again at headquarters Meath were beaten by double scores 4-6 to 2-3. In the Leinster final, on 7th August, Kildare were beaten by nine points Laois 2-8, Kildare 1-2. On to Croke Park for the All Ireland Semi-Final and another heartbreak against Kerry 2-6 to Laois 2-4. The backlog of fixtures as usual had to be concluded. In the ‘37 Intermediate football final Ballybrittas easily defeated Clonad 3-6 to 1-0 on 13 March. In the senior championship semi-final for ‘37 Graiguecullen beat Annanough 2-2 to 0-3 on 20 February at Ballyadams.
However because of the American trip and the Leinster Championship the final was not played until 2 October. Despite an outstanding display by Tommie Murphy Stradbally again triumphed 3-3 to 1-2. In the 1938 football championships Graiguecullen took senior honours beating Abbeyleix 2-6 to 1-2. In Intermediate football Ballyadams beat Portlaoise to take the title. The Junior title rested between Jamestown and Mountrath at the end of the year.
In the hurling championships at senior level Errill and near neighbours Rathdowney qualified for the final on 16 October. Errill captured their first senior title on a score 2-5 to 1-4. The curtain raiser was the Intermediate hurling final which resulted in an easy win for Ballacolla 7-1 to 2-0 for Mountmellick.
In the delayed J. F. C. Final ‘38 Jamestown defeated Mountrath 1-7 to 1-3. At inter county level the senior football teams glory days were over going out to Meath in Mullingar 1-9 to 1-7. The local scene was very advanced in comparison with other years. The old firm Stradbally and Graiguecullen again contested the senior football final on 20 August. At half time Graigue led 0-3 to 0-2 and went on to win 0-7 to 0-5. Stradbally had some consolation taking Feis honours on 17 September beating Ballyroan 1-3 to 0-2. Portlaoise in Intermediate and Mountrath beaten finalists in ‘38 took junior football honours beating Mountmellick in early 1940.
On the hurling scene Abbeyleix qualified for the senior final on 27 August defeating Clonad. In the other semi-final on the same bill Errill were easy winners over Kilcotton 5-7 to 2-3. The final, two weeks later, resulted in an easy Abbeyleix win 2-9 to 1-3. Abbeyleix also qualified for the junior final on 18 November - Borris-in-Ossory were narrow winner 3-7 to 4-2 for Abbeyleix. Camross took Intermediate hurling honours beating Rathdowney.
Tommy Murphy was captain of the Laois footballers for the 1940 campaign. Laois had a narrow shave from a good Carlow team in round 1 at Athy on 5 May, Laois 1-7 Carlow 1-6. In the second round on 2 June at Carlow. Laois had three goals to spare over Wexford 3-4 to 0-4. Offaly were disposed of in the semi-final at Athy on 14th July. In the Leinster final on 28 July, the reigning Leinster champions and All Ireland finalists for 1939, Meath has a goal to spare Meath 2-7 Laois 1-7.
On the local scene Graiguecullen and Stradbally again qualified for the final on 29 September. Graigue lined out minus T. O'Brien, J. McDarby and E. Begley. Graigue had no answer to Bill Delaney who scored four goals in a 5-3 to 3-3 victory. In Intermediate football Annanough qualified for the final beating Jamestown 3-5 to 0-5 in the semifinal. On the other side Worsted Mills beat The Heath 1-5 to 1-3. The final was on 2 November, Dick Miller scored 1-3 in Annanough's 1-5 to 1-3 win. Clonad made it into the winners enclosure in Junior football.
On the local hurling scene Kilcotton beat Camross on 18 August, 7-4 to 5-4 to qualify for the senior final. Abbeyleix beat Rathdowney by ten points in the other semi-final. In the final on 15 September, before the biggest crowd for years, Abbeyleix ran out winners 2-3 to 0-3. Kilcotton's neighbours Borris-in-Ossory played a draw with Ballygeehan in the Intermediate final played prior to the senior game. In the replay on 29th September, which was the curtain raiser to the senior football final, Borris-in-Ossory came out on top 4-3 to 3-1 for Ballygeehan. In Junior hurling Mountrath won the first leg of a remarkable three-in-row by taking Junior hurling honours.
On the intercounty hurling scene the Minor hurlers made the biggest impact. In the first round, on 12 May at Birr, Offaly were given a heavy beating 14-4 to 2-2. In what was the semi-final at Newbridge Meath were beaten 8-4 to 2-3 on 7 July. In the Leinster final as Nowlan Park on 21 July Dublin 10-5 beat Laois 3-3. However the matter did not end there, Laois objected on the basis that Dublin had an overage player. Leinster Council ruled in favour of Laois and overuled a Dublin counter objection against two of the Laois players. Dublin appealed to the Central Council who upheld the provincial body's decision in awarding Laois the title. In the All Ireland semi-final Laois lost to Antrim 5-3 to 4-5. The Laois Leinster final team:- D. Shelly, M. Conroy, P. McCormack, J. Dollard, D. Sweeney, M. Dunne, J. Wheeler, M. Baggot, J. Treacy, M. Loughman, E. Kelly, P. O'Brien, S. Daly, M. Phelan, P. Laffey. Subs.: W. Doyle, J. Maloney, T. White, M. Kilmartin, L. Lenihan.
In the senior hurling championship Kilcotton and Rathdowney qualified for the final on 24 August in O'Moore Park. Kilcotton won the game 3-6 to 2-2 for Rathdowney. Subsequent to the game Rathdowney objected on three grounds and the objection was considered at a board meeting on 27 September presided over by Lorcan Bradaigh.
The objection was upheld on the second point that "a player" (Rev. John Guerin) has played football with Kyle - who also had a hurling team and that the said player was therefore a member of the Kyle club and not eligible to play for Kilcotton. Mountrathtook Intermediate honours. The Junior hurling title was not decided until 1942.
In football the Senior championship had a somewhat controversial ending also. Graigue and Stradbally yet again contesting the final on 14 September. After being in arrears Stradbally went into a one point lead with time running out. Tommy Murphy broke through and shot Graigue claimed a goal but no flag. Graigue left the field and Stradbally were awarded the game as the scores stood. Stradbally 2-7 Graiguecullen 3-3. Jamestown took Intermediate honours, the Junior football final was left over to ‘42.
On the intercounty scene Laois had a double success winning Leinster titles in Junior football and Minor hurling. In the Junior football Laois beat Offaly 1-6 to 1-5 at Portarlington on 4 May. In the second round, again at Portarlington, Westmeath were beaten 3-6 to 0-9 on 1 June and in the Leinster semi-final again at Portarlington on 28 June Wexford were defeated 5-6 to 2-1. In the final
Laois defeated Louth 2-7 to 2-5 on 13 July. The panel that played during the Leinster series:- J. McGlynn, M. Hyland, K. Croke, P. Nolan, W. Mullins, P. Bergin, M. Bowler, M. Shortall, Fr. M. Kaye, D. Tierney, W. Connor, J. Lalor, P. Horan, V. Scully, M. Dunne, W. Brennan, J. Conway, S. Hughes, A. Stack, N. Rice, P. Peacock. In the All Ireland series Laois were paired with Kerry and availed ot the rule that allowed the use of four of the senior panel. Laois drafted in Morgan Delaney and Tom Haughney for the draw with Kerry, Laois 4-6 to 3-9 for Kerry on 17 August. For the replay Laois added Jack Delaney and Paddy Mulhall but were no match for Kerry losing in Killarney 3-7 to 1-0
on 30 August.
The Laois Minor hurlers opened their account on 20 July against Dublin at Portlaoise winning 4-6 to 4-3. The provincial final had to be postponed because of the Foot and Mouth epidemic. Laois were nominated to play Galway in the All Ireland semi-final at Roscrea on 14 September losing Galway 5-2 Laois 4-3. In the Leinster final played on 16 November at Kilkenny, Laois defeated Kilkenny 3-5 to 2-4. Team v's Kilkenny:- P. Wall, R. Sheeran, J. J. Bergin, T. Cooke, D. Murray, F. Dollard, P. Campion, P.
O'Brien, P. Ryan, P. Maher, M. Loughnan, L. White, P. Kelly, E. Walsh, B. Heenan. Subs.:- J. Tracy (also played), L. McCabe, P. Doyle, K. Bowe, T. Ferns, T. White, J. Dollard.
In the senior hurling championship newly promoted Mountrath's progress was being closely watched. Mountrath and Kilcotton clashed on 23 August at Borris-in-Ossory. A lost minute point drew it for Kilcotton 2-10 to Mountrath 4-4. The replay on 6 September resulted in a Mountrath win 2-1 to 0-4 for Kilcotton. Mountrath overcame an other tough obstacle in Abbeyleix on 13 September in the semifinal.
Mountrath made history in defeating Clonad 3-2 to 3-0 to win their only senior hurling title. An other hurling club making progress was Portlaoise taking Intermediate honours. The Rovers (Rathleague) took Junior hurling honours for 1942. Mountmellick were involved in both Junior championships.
In the hurling they beat Cuddagh and Ballinakill in the final on 5 April 1942. In Junior football Mountmellick beat some of the big names of Laois football, The Heath, Portlaoise, Ballyroan (two draws and win on third encounter), Kellyville in the semi-final and Ballyfin in the final on 28 June, 1942. Mountmellick also captured Féis honours in 1942.
In the 1942 football championships, Stradbally and Ballyroan met in the semi-final on 23 August. Ballyroan were ahead by four points at half time 1-5 to 1-1. Stradbally levelled up after half time but two late points secured the victory for Ballyroan 1-7 to 2-3. Graiguecullen however were easy winners of the final played at the Swan on 6 September, Graigue 2-6 Ballyroan 0-2. In the Intermediatge football championship, The Heath qualified for the final beating Clonad, and old rivals Abbeyleix in the semi-final 4-6 to 2-4. On the other side of the draw Flemings Fireclay emerged from among Portarlington, Portlaoise and Mountmellick.
The final was played at Stradbally on 8 November. The "standard of football wasequal to any senior game there being plenty of high fielding and long kicking". The decisive moment was when the ball struck a spectator on the end line and resulted in a Fireclay goal. Final score Flemings Fireclay 2-4, The Heath 0-5. The Junior football championship was much delayed not being concluded until 1943. In Minor grade the Rovers (Rathleague) dominated in both hurling and football until mid decade.
On the intercounty scene Laois senior footballers again advanced to the Leinster final. In the first, at Athy on 16th May, Kildare were beaten 4-8 to 1-10. In the semi-final, again at Athy, Laois barely survived the Carlow challenge 3-8 to 3-6 on 27 June. In the Leinster final on 25 July Laois were heavily beaten by Louth 3-16 to 2-4.
In the local championships Park took the 1942 J.F.C. in the final played at The Heath on 5 September versus Old Pound. In the senior football championship for 1943 Ballyroan gave a heavy beating to Stradbally, while Flemings Fireclay put out Graiguecullen. In the final Ballyroan bridged a twenty six year gap winning, Ballyroan 0-9 to Flemings Fireclay 1-3. Again the Intermediate football championship was behind schedule. This in part was due to the delay in completing the previous years Junior championship. The Heath and Ballylinan drew at Park on 28 November. The replay did not come off until ‘44. Mountmellick has eliminated Portlaoise and Portarlington to reach the final.
In the Hurling championships at senior level newly promoted Portlaoise made it to the semi-final to be defeated by Errill. Portlaoise objected to Errill and the matter went to Leinster Council before Portlaoise were awarded the game. Portlaoise went on to claim their first senior hurling title since 1928 beating Rathdowney 4-11 to 4-3. Clonaslee took Intermediate honours beating Mountmellick after a replay in the semi-final, while Castletown took Junior honours.
The ‘43 Intermediate championship in football remained to be concluded as the year opened. The Heath defeated Ballylinan 2-4 to 1-4 at Kellyville on 13 February. On the following Sunday Clonad were defeated. The final v Mountmellick was played at O'Moore Park on 6 March. The Heath won 0-6 to 0-1 after leading 0-5 to 0-0 at half time.
In the 1944 local football championships the old firm Stradbally and Graigue played in the semi-final on 16 July at Milltown. Graiguecullen had an easy win 2-7 to 0-4. On the other side of the draw champions Ballyroan went out with Annanough qualifying for the final. Graigue has three goals to spare over Annanough, 3-7 to 0-7 in the final. At Intermediate level Ballylinan went one better than ‘43 beating Portarlington in the final at Milltown. Spink took the Junior honours.
On the local hurling scene, Abbeyleix were far superior at senior level, Kilcotton beat Camross by a point on 10 September but were beaten 2-9 to 0-3 by Abbeyleix two weeks later in the final.
In Intermediate grade Durrow were champions. At Junior level Kyle qualified for the final defeating Blandsfort 4-4 to 2-1. In the final Kyle became champions with a goal to spare over Clonin 2-3 to 1-3 at Mountrath on 12 November, 1944.
The Senior hurling championship was well advanced by August. Camross defeated Kilcotton 8-5 to 0-5 in the quarter final. Camross qualified for the final beating Rathdowney 3-6 to 3-3 on 9 September. In the other semi Abbeyleix defeated Clonaslee 11-4 to 2-4. The final was played on 14 October, Abbeyleix winning 2-5 to 1-2 for Camross.
Rovers won the Intermediate hurling title and won their fourth in a row Minor hurling title. Blandsfort in the shake up in ‘44 won Junior hurling honours.
On the football scene Graiguecullen reigned supreme. Stradbally went out to Ballyroan 0-4 to 0-2. Graiguecullen had two points to spare in the final 3-7 to 3-5 for Ballyroan. In Intermediate grade beaten finalists of ‘44 Portarlington took the title. Ballyadams took Junior honours beating Clonad at Stradbally.
On the intercounty stage 1946 was to mark the end of a glorious era in Laois football. Laois seniors were considered outsiders at the start of the championship. Laois just got over Dublin by a point at Athy on 19 May, 1-3 to 0-5. The margain was two points against Offaly at Tullamore on 2 June, Laois 1-7, Offaly 1-5. On 30 June at Croke Park Louth were beaten, again by two points, 1-9 to 0-10, with Bill Delaney getting the vital goal. Back in the Leinster final for the first time since 1943. Great expectations surrounded the clash with old rivals Kildare.
Laois had a long list of injured players in the run up to the game. A postponement was sought but was refused by Leinster Council. A record attendance of 27,353 paid gate receipts £2,136- 7-3. Despite the foreboding of doom, Bill Delaney played with his ribs strapped, it was one of Laois's finest hours.
One man reigned supreme, Tommy Murphy at centre half back turned in a display that has become the stuff of leg- end. He sent over eight points from centre half back from frees, was mainly responsible for a ninth and played a huge part in stemming an all out Kildare bid near the end in a 0-11 to 1-6 victory. Team:- A. Whelan, J. Lalor, J. Sayers, M. Delaney, M. Jones, T. Murphy, B. Hunt, M. Haughney, M. Dunne, F. Hughes, W. Delaney, M. Delaney, M. Fanning, C. Delaney, P. Peacock. Des Connolly was selected at midfield but was replaced by Matt Dunne because of injury. Paddy Sixsmith replaced Mick Fanning because of injury towards the end of the game. Also in the panel B. Duff, T.Walsh, C. Keogh, M. Jones.
In the All Ireland semi-final Roscommon, champions in 1943 and ‘44 were the opposition, Roscommon had the tonic of two first half goals to hang on to victory 3-5 to 2-6.
On the local scene, the the Senior football championship ‘46 saw the advent of area teams whereby Intermediate and Junior clubs combined without affecting the individual players status. Young Irelanders, Eoghan Ruadh and Fintan Lalors were three such teams to make an impact in the ‘40s. The Young Islanders were comprised of players from Annanough who regraded from senior, Jamestown, The Heath, New Mills and Derrylamogue. The Young Islanders beat Stradbally 3-3 to 1-1 before losing to Graiguecullen in the semi-final. In the Senior final Graiguecullen beat Ballyroan 4-6 to 1-4. In Intermediate grade regraded Annanough beat Timahoe. Barrowhouse were Junior champions for 1946.
In the hurling championships Clonad and Abbeyleix clashed in the first of three successive finals. Clonad being victors 3-4 to 2-2. Cullohill took the Intermediate honours. Cappamore were newcomers to the winners list taking the Junior hurling title.