Hello and fáilte to the 3rd issue of Portlaoise GAA Club’s new newsletter, Town Tattler. It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since we entered our first lockdown. And what a year it’s been! I’m a glass two-thirds full kind of guy and try to see the positive in everything – from the Town Tattler to Friday night’s Lockdown Bingo it’s brilliant to see the uptake of engagement and involvement in the club. We also can’t forget the success on the pitch in the past year and we reflect on that and look towards the future in this issue. Everyone at Town Tattler is overwhelmed by the success of the newsletter and the support from the whole town. I hope you enjoy this issue.
Pictured: Paddy and Imelda with the sign in the newly refurbished gym
The club would like to say a heartfelt THANK YOU to Paddy and Imelda Fitzpatrick, who have sponsored this new sign for the newly refurbished gym in Rathleague. This is a wonderful contribution and brilliant message from two lifelong members of the club – “Don’t Quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a Champion.”
Its March and we cannot let this month go without special mention to two great teams that brought us to the highest point in club sport.
The heroes of 1982/83 stand alone in our club as the only team to make the ultimate breakthrough. In March 1983 – a miserable day weather-wise that resulted in the last-minute relocation of the game from Tullamore to Cloughjordan – the town defeated Clann na Gael from Roscommon on a scoreline of 0-12 to 2-0 to become All-Ireland senior champions for the first and only time.
A team littered with once-in-a-generation players such as Eamon ‘Atch’ Whelan, Colm and Gerry Browne, and Tom ‘Curly’ Prendergast had blazed a trail through Laois and Leinster in 1982, scraped over the famed St Finbarrs of Cork in the semi-final in early ’83 and were not going to be denied their destiny. This team had it all, a perfect blend of youth and experience.
Mick Dooley and Mick Mulhall had also won a Leinster Championship back in 1971. Colm Browne, Gerry Browne, Eamon Whelan, Liam Scully, Noel Scully, Tom Prendergast, Billy Bohan, and Bernie Conroy joined them to win another in 1976. They had also lost Leinster finals in 1979 to Walsh Island (by a solitary point) and 1981 to Raheens of Kildare.
By 1983 this team was ready. Cloughjordan will always be a place associated with the glory days of Portlaoise GAA. This team underlined its greatness with further Leinster Championship successes in 1985 and 1987.
The heroes of the 1970’s and 1980’s helped transform the mindset of Portlaoise football. For many years we laid claim to being the most successful club in our province. This holds true still where we sit atop the roll of honour alongside the famed St Vincent’s.
The torch was passed to the next generation in fine fashion and in 2004/2005 the town finally arrived back on the big stage – this time in the more auspicious surrounds of Croke Park. This was a team backboned by a host of players who had starred at minor level competing and winning All-Irelands with Laois. This team gave us memorable days. Who will ever forget ‘the Doc’ Fitz giving a rousing rendition of the Portlaoise Queen in Newbridge after his beloved town had swept the Trevor Giles-led Skryne from Meath away in the Leinster Final.
Beating the great Crossmaglen team in the All-Ireland semi final must rank as one of the greatest victories in the history of the club. Heartbreak was to follow in the final. Portlaoise looked to be heading for victory, without reaching the heights of their potential, only for Ballina to register the last three points of the game and deprive a gallant town side by one single point.
Such are the fine margins in sport but what a team this was; Cahir Healy, Aidan Fennelly, Martin Delaney, Bruno McCormack, Ian Fitzgerald, Kevin Fitzpatrick, Woolly Parkinson – household names and what a supporting cast alongside them. How lucky have we been to see teams such as these in our club. We may be down a little right now but the standard has been set and Portlaoise will come again. Thanks to the panels of 1982/83 and 2004/05 for the magical March memories.
Originally from the Big Blue Smoke I grew up in Killinarden, Tallaght with 2 brothers and my sister. I’ve been working with Campion Insurance in The Town for the past 13 years after giving up on the dreaded commute. Before moving to Portlaoise, I’ve worked in Germany for a short time and in Jersey in the Channel Islands for about 10yrs. It was there I met my lovely wife Andrea before getting married and settling in Portlaoise. We have 2 lovely kids a girl & a boy who are both members of the Club so lots of time spent in Rathleague.
After returning home to get married we knew we didn’t want to live in Dublin, the country had gone through massive changes with the Celtic tiger. The Tallaght I knew had become a mini city which wasn’t us. We had friends that lived in Abbeyleix and they suggested looking down around here. We had looked at other areas before deciding on The Town.
Our daughter started playing Camogie for the club in 2014, something I never thought would happen – next thing, she’s lining out in her hurl and helmet and getting stuck in. Now I’m involved with my son in the juveniles and the circle starts again.
I can blame Mick Ryan for that… At the start I enjoyed getting involved to help the coaches it was getting to be out on a football pitch again. The following year I took on my daughters team and I got more involved with the committee – Development Officer, attending County board meeting, the rest they say is history. Last year I was voted in as Chairperson.
A few sleepless nights at the start, but with COVID restrictions playing havoc across our community, the stop/start of the season and outstanding county finals our club arestill involved in. I think the challenges have been more on the players and their families. We have a good group on the committee with a vast amount of knowledge about the in’s and outs of running the club and I hope to call upon when we get back playing.
To keep the club growing, in the beginning the club started with just 25 members it has grown a lot in the years since, but there are plenty of camogie stars still to be discovered.
The year that is has been yes, I have. I haven’t had to deal with a lot of the other issues around chairing a club I’m sure that will come.
Oh Yeah, how many in a row ? I will come to support Laois as long as yous aren’t playing the Dubs.
Great for the County, but not sure its good for the game.
Yes, we settled pretty much straight away. There’s no going back to Dublin.
Very complicated, logistically fitting a club season into a short period of time takes a lot of time to sort out, then add county fixtures. This year highlighted the issue regarding dual players and the clash of fixtures. There are people within the associations calling for this to change, so we’ll have to wait and see.
I think its very important now more than ever, it’s a great outlet from them. We know the benefit of kids being involved in sports – Health, Wellbeing, Commucation, Team Work, Stress Releaser but mostly the Fun and enjoyment.
Alan Kingsley was a hurler of great promise with Portlaoise. A former Laois minor hurler of the year and a member of the last team to win the senior championship in 2004. Hurling’s loss was rugby’s gain, we spoke to Alan, who has recently been appointed kicking consultant with Cardiff Blues and also works with the Dragons and Biarritz.
Earliest memories would be getting dropped out to Togher on a Saturday morning to play rugby and then up to the street leagues on a Sunday morning in the GAA centre . The minibus trips to and from Togher from the top square along with the away blitzes around the midlands always come to mind . From the GAA side, we were lucky enough to play in many county finals right though the age grades, the old dressing rooms in O Moore park and running out the tunnel was always a special occasion and something that sticks in my mind. On TV watching the 5 nations with Fred Cogley on commentary and Italia 90 were the big early stand out memories.
Cuman na mBunscoil used to hand out posters in the schools of the top footballers and hurlers around that time . Pauric Lodge now an RTE commentator grew up right next door and he’d sit on the wall commentating while I’d try copy scores and skills of the players on the posters . DJ Carey, Nicky English, Mickey Linden and Jason Sherlock were among the favourites and mentioned most. The Laois minors of 95 and following years were also players I looked up to. While not that much older they certainly inspired my age group alot. In the club the likes of John Taylor, the Rigneys who played both rugby and hurling , Zoom and my neighbour Tom Conroy really stood out as ppl I looked up too.
I was lucky enough that the seasons didn’t cross over too much back then and I could fully commit to both for 99% of the time. The first real big decisions I remember having to make was to play a minor football final against St John Boscos or an interpro game against Ulster . I chose the rugby but it was a close call.
The biggest and most clear difference is the pace of the game. From hurling that moves 100mph to rugby that can be stop start. The ability to move fast for 60 mins and execute at top speed compared to the ability to take collisions and rely more on power and strength are the noticeable differences from a fitness point. From a skills perspective both required the skills of decision making, spacial awareness, execution etc but hurling and the finesse of the touch and speed of the game for me is a step above anything in rugby.
There’s a lot of great memories right from u10 to senior but I think winning the minor hurling final against Castletown in 2001 is up there with the best. It was a fairly tight group at the time and an enjoyable year on and off the field. Working in the club house bar with Walla Brown as boss man are real good memories too.
Probably not as much as I should but the beauty of meeting old team/club mates when back in town is we always have something in common to chat about over a few pints. I’d be in regular contact with a few still, but definitely room for improvement too.
I was lucky enough to play on some great teams and win some big competitions along with playing some representative stuff but I think winning the Towns cup with Portlaoise is my favourite highlight. Some close friends, cousins and my brother were all on the team and was a special day. The club always made a massive effort in that competition and hadn’t won it in a while which probably made it all the sweeter too.
I fell into it really, I was in Australia and got asked to help with The Western Force academy as kicking and skills coach. I did that part time for a year before coming back to Ireland and coaching Navan RFC for 5 years. I got involved with St Mary’s CSSP and did 3 senior cup cycles with them while also getting involved with some academy and u19/20 teams with Leinster. From there I got the opportunity to move to Wales and take a role with the Dragons thanks to Bernard Jackman. This year with Covid, I’ve moved to more of a consultancy role and work with some teams here in Wales and over in France .
The visible highlight would probably be a big win over Scarlets on Judgement day 19/20 season but most of the highlights are the small victories away from the public eye. The helping players through bad patches and seeing improvements in individuals is rewarding along with installing a game plan and it being executed despite a loss can also be a highlight for coaches.
I don’t really know to be honest, I’m enjoying being involved in pro rugby at the moment and will see where it takes me. To get back and coach in Ireland I suppose would be nice at some stage but at the moment, I’m happy to be learning and getting coaching experiences away from home.
Yeah happy at the moment and really enjoying life in Wales. All the family are happy here and we’ve met some really nice people through rugby circles and also through St Pauls GAA club here in Cardiff. While we’re overseas I think we as a family would be open to move around a little more but definitely a return to Ireland and hopefully Portlaoise at some stage. If we moved home I think it would be very hard to leave again so I think we’ll stay on the road while we have the opportunities. Portlaoise is home and as the saying goes, there’s no place like it. No matter what corner of Europe rugby has brought me, sometimes the first thing after matches would be to check GAA or rugby results from Portlaoise. It means a lot to me and I look forward to moving back there at some stage.
Nothing new here but you have to enjoy it and nothing beats hard work and diligence. Be willing to adapt and a team first mentality is a great characteristic. Also to play as many sports as possible while younger as skillset from different sports can be transferable.
It’s a totally different lifestyle under Covid as it is for everyone and we consider ourselves lucky to be able to get on with playing and training. All the normal chat of bubbles, tests etc are daily and wearing thin. It’s very different playing in empty stadiums and the supporters can’t come back quickly enough to create that buzz and help the off field stuff too. In the UK here, there’s a plan and suggested dates to start returning to normal life so if we keep to the rules for a few more weeks hopefully we can finally beat Covid-19
Working in rugby means long days and very little time off. Normal day would see staff and players arrive at 7.15am. Coaches would be having 1:1 meeting with players, preparing sessions and presentations to be delivered during the day or week. There would normally be two pitch sessions a day on Mon/Tue for about 40 mins each so out of a 9/10 hour day only 1.20 mins actually spent on grass. While the match at the weekend maybe be the focus for players the coaches work a week ahead so when it gets to the following Monday all the prep is ready for the players to roll into another week. Depending on the match day a normal week is Mon/Tues off Wed and back in Thurs/Fri and match Saturday. Sunday would be at home but very much a working day to have reviews ready to go Monday morning.
That’s a hard one. I can’t narrow it down to one. In the modern game there are some hugely talented players creating their own legacies and known worldwide along with some of the greats of the game. George Gregan, Carlos Spensor, Christian Cullen are a few of many who come to mind and at the monent you can’t but admire what Antoine DuPont is doing for France and Toulouse.
I suppose the underage coaches in Togher and the GAA club who instilled a love for sport and made it fun to keep going back. Again, I’ve been lucky enough to work under some top class coaches but the credit must go to the people who started the journey along with my parents who encouraged sports but were never pushy.
All-Ireland Senior Club Football Championship Winners: (1) 1982-83
Leinster Senior Club Football Championship: Winners (7) 1971, 1976, 1982, 1985, 1987, 2004, 2009
Laois Senior Football Championship: Winners (35) 1889, 1897, 1906, 1907, 1964, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1976, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1990, 1991, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019
Laois Intermediate Football Championship: Winners (5) 1939, 1956, 1972, 1975, 1982
Laois U-21 Football Championship: Winners (18) 1965, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2013
Laois Junior Football Championship A: Winners (10) 1908, 1911, 1935, 1973, 1977, 1988, 1992, 1999, 2002, 2005
Laois Junior Football Championship B: Winners (1) 2002
Laois Junior Football Championship C: Winners (3) 2003, 2008, 2009
Laois Minor Football Championship: Winners (26) 1940, 1941, 1951, 1954, 1956, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1978, 1979, 1981, 1984, 1993, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2012
Laois Senior Hurling Championship: Winners (11) 1928, 1943, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1998, 2004
Laois Intermediate Hurling Championship: Winners (2) 1935, 1942
Laois U-21 Hurling Championship: Winners (5) 1978, 1981, 1988, 2000, 2015
Laois Junior Hurling Championship A: Winners (4) 1965, 1987, 1993, 2013
Laois Junior Hurling Championship C: Winners (1) 2018
Laois Minor Hurling Championship: Winners (21) 1949, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1972, 1984, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2001
Laois Ladies’ Senior Football Club Championship: (1) 2020
Laois Ladies’ Senior Football Club Championship B: (1) 2014
Laois Minor Championship: Winners (1) 2006
Laois Junior Championship: Winners (4) 1987, 1988, 1992, 2005
Laois Minor Championship: Winners (3) 2007, 2008, 2017
U-12: (10) 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1979, 1983, 1984, 1991, 1993, 2010
U-14: (20) 1973, 1974, 1975, 1980, 1981, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2014
U-15: (1) 2019
Feile: (17) 1976, 1980, 1981, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1993, 1995, 1996, 2000, 200, 2003, 2004, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012
U-16: (24) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1978, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1992, 1995, 1997, 2002, 2003, 2014
U-17: (10) 1972, 1976, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1988, 1989, 1996, 1998, 2002
U-11: (1) 2019
U-12: (16) 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1978, 1979, 1982, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2016
U-12 B: (2) 1970, 1973
U-14: (21) 1961, 1973, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1981, 1984, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012
U-15: (1) 2019
Feile: (15) 1984, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2014
U-16: (19) 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1968,1974, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1986, 1993, 1995, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010
U-17: (13) 1965, 1971, 1971, 1972, 1978, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1988, 1989, 1996, 1998, 2000
U-12: (8) 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2018
U-14: (8) 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2016
U-16: (6) 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2017, 2018
U-12: (3) 2014, 2017, 2019
U-14: (2) 2016, 2017
U-16: (2) 2018, 2019
U-16 Shield: (1) 2009
U-16 League: (1) 2017
Feile: (2) 2016, 2017