34 summers on, calls for Laois to earn only their second ever All-Star 2 months ago

34 summers on, calls for Laois to earn only their second ever All-Star

Laois have only ever had one hurling All-Star.

Pat 'Zoom' Critchley in 1985. The same year Laois were at the big dance and could only bested by one-team, the eventual All-Ireland champions Offaly.

That famous summer started off for the O'Moore men with a big display against Dublin in Tullamore. It finished up with a defeat to the Faithful in the Leinster final.

In between, Critchley, the dual star and renowned all-rounder gave George O'Connor the runaround of his life. O'Connor was a Wexford legend and one of the toughest and most courageous players in the country at the time but Critchley won their battle that day as underdogs Laois shocked Wexford by two to make it into the Leinster final.

Pat Critchley was a dual star, handballer, basketballer. Seen here during a Stars of the 80's' tribute at Cork and Clare's 2013 All-Ireland final. PIC/Sportsfile.

The summers were savage back then though and the defeat to Offaly meant Laois were out of the championship. A consolation was about to arrive for Critchley.

The Portlaoise club man's fearless Leinster campaign earned him an All-Star and still he remains the only ever Laois hurler to be honoured as such. Men like John Taylor, PJ Cuddy and James Young have all come close but to this day Critchley is a stand-alone figure in Laois hurling.

34 summers on and a Laois man is again being spoken about in awed tones. This time, it's the goalie, this time it's Enda Rowland.

A stalwart of the Laois nets for a number of years, the Abbeyleix club man is finally getting his due recognition just about now. Having starred in their Joe McDonagh campaign with a string of outstanding performances, most notably one against Antrim dubbed as 'good a display as you'll see in hurling,' he furthered his credentials even more in Sunday's preliminary quarter final against Dublin.

Cheddar Plunkett has been banging the Rowland drum for quite some time and he hailed his former goalkeeper again on Monday's GAA Hour Show.

"I said it here last week Wooly that Enda Rowland must surely be considered for an All-Star, at the very least a nomination. He proved it on Sunday.

"There were three aspects. The three aspects that you expect a goalkeeper to be good at. They need to save the ball, and he did that yesterday. A goal at that stage, you wouldn't have recovered from Danny Sutcliffe's shot. It was a reaction save and it was really, really important.

"The second aspect is his free-taking ability. We laud Eoin Murphy when he does it, this guy can do that and he's been doing it for a number of years and for a number of teams..."

There are few shortcomings in this man's game, and his drilled puckouts are huge in Laois' game-plan.

"The biggest aspect on Sunday was his puckouts. They weren't droppers or hangers. They were low trajectory puck-outs which favour half-forwards coming onto the ball either for the catch or the tap-down to themselves. In that, he took Chris Crummey's strength away, they were bullets coming hand high."

There's a long way to go, but Rowland certainly has enough money in the bank to have an All-Star nomination earned already...

You can listen to The GAA Hour Hurling Show here.