Earliest memory of club
The earliest memory of Portlaoise is of the John Cole leagues in the “ swimming pool” field as we called it then . A summers evening and Sean Duff (Lorcan’s Dad from the ridge road ) arrives down to play on his bicycle ,boots tied to the handlebars hurl in hand, togs but no jersey and definitely no helmet . He left the bike behind the goals ,put on the boots and out to play . Jerseys were given out by Peter Carroll . After the match he came back bare skinned with blood streaming from a headwound onto the chest . He cleaned the blood off with the jersey ,back onto the bike and off home.
Ger Henderson ; John Taylor ; John Bohane ( preferred the backs for some reason )
My father’s and mother’s interest in hurling and football was huge. My early memories are of Dad travelling to Thurles, picking up Seán McEvoy on the way in Durrow. From Durrow to Thurles an argument would ensue over the best hurlers at the time and who’d win the match and we’d be sitting in the back of the car taking it all in and inhaling huge amounts of pipe or cigarette smoke from Seán.
Bill Phelan had a huge influence on all age groups at the time. Not sure there’s anyone around since that gave as much time to Portlaoise GAA or could give as much time to Portlaoise GAA. He lived for the club. Together with Ollie Byrne, Peter Carroll and Peter Fennell we travelled the country which included two Féile na nGael’s, both in Galway and a Féile Peil na Nóg in Gormanstown. As juveniles we couldn’t have had more committed people looking after us.
Favourite Club memory
Beating Graigue Ballycallan ( Kilkenny ) in the Leinster club semi-final in Carlow. Most of the players who played on that team might agree that it was not the best Portlaoise hurling team that ever took the field but there was a huge battle in them and the Kilkenny champions had a good few Kilkenny players playing for them. We pipped them in a high scoring game!
Best Players played with and against
John Taylor was the outstanding player that I played with. At his peak he was brilliant and it was a pity that he did not get the national recognition that was deserved. Pat Critchley, John Bohane and Cheddar were not only great Portlaoise players but equally good at encouraging young players coming onto the senior team. Niall Rigney and Liam Bergin were excellent hurlers and for Laois PJ Cuddy, Bill Meagher and Joe Dollard always gave it their all. I had the good fortune to play football, albeit for a short time with Colm Browne and Tom Prendergast. Their achievements speak for themselves.
All tough. For Club – P.J. Cuddy in Laois . County – Eamonn Morrissey/ Kilkenny. Martin Storey Wexford.
1987 Leinster club hurling final v Rathnure.
· At juvenile level we must seek to develop and improve players. With amalgamations in Laois as they are now team success will not come as easily to Portlaoise as it did in the past but we need to remain focussed on ensuring that juveniles graduate to senior level with the proper attitude and the full array of skills. This is far more important than any league/féile or championship wins.
· We need to do more to improve hurling and this must start with primary schools. We should set ourselves the target of ensuring that every child attending school in Portlaoise is exposed to the game of hurling and encouraged to play it. · The recruitment and education of coaches in the club must become central to our development. Better coaching will produce better players.
· It would also be nice to see our facilities continue to improve.
· In 1987 we were a puck of a ball away from a Leinster club double. I’d love to see us working towards that again and this time finishing the job.