Alfie Lewis was a larger than life figure within Portlaoise GAA. He came to prominence as a minor of exceptional talent and strength and was early promoted to senior hurling and football teams in the 1950s. He was soon starring with the county football team and his fame as a footballer and personality assumed almost legendary status as his career developed.
His display at centre half back on the famous Sean Purcell of the Galway All-Ireland champion side in a vital National Football League clash at Portarlington in the late 1950s, which Laois won, is the stuff of folklore such was his dominant display.
Alfie played a prominent part in bringing five senior football titles to the town in the 1960s, wins that raised the status of the Town considerably. A man of a mighty frame he was popularly known as “The Metal Man” because of his indestructible qualities and he had a personality to match which made him an icon during his playing years and a man fondly remembered all his life.
His other main sporting interest was boxing and his favourite hobby was photography and these pursuits kept him busy and engaged with people of like interest after his playing days.
His son, Jimmy, followed in his dad’s footsteps as an outstanding footballer for the Town, winning titles in all grades including senior in the 1980s and 1990s and also starring with county teams.
Tommy Conroy has been a stalwart of Portlaoise GAA throughout his life. He played senior football for the town for 17 years, winning six county championships as well as a Leinster title in 1987. He made his name when he broke onto the great town team of the 80’s with Colm and Gerry Browne, Curly and co still setting the standard. He soldiered through the barren years of the ‘90s and then a golden generation of new stars arrived like Ian Fitzgerald, Martin Delaney, Woolly, Fitzy etc and gave an an ageing sportsman a new lease of life. Here are some of his personal memories of the club.