herald

Thursday 17 January 2019

vins to be new home for rory

Laois footballer Stapleton seeks move to Marino club

Stapleton, a primary school teacher based in Dublin for the past seven years, yesterday informed members of his native Annanough that he wants to join the legendary Marino outfit.

"They understand my situation and they wish me the best," he told the Evening Herald. "And they hope to see me return at some stage to tog out with them."



Anger

The past two years has seen an exodus of high-profile Laois footballers to Dublin clubs, sparking anger and frustration among O'Moore county officials. However, Stapleton's scenario differs from some previous transfers in that he is long settled in the city.

"Between college and teaching, I'm up here this past seven years," the defender revealed. "I'm within walking distance of Pairc Naomh Uinsionn. Another factor then would be that first cousins of my father played with Vincent's in the 1960s (including the late Simon Behan, an All-Ireland SFC winner with Dublin in 1963)."

His primary motivation, however, is a desire to play club football at a higher level and he views St Vincent's as the "logical option".

Whereas Vins were crowned All-Ireland champions as recently as 2008, Annanough's last major success was a Laois IFC crown in 1978 and the Stradbally parish outfit are still striving to escape the intermediate ranks, having gone down from senior in 1996.

"I'm at that stage of my career that I want to play senior football and unfortunately it hasn't materialised in Laois," Stapleton outlined. "I hope Annanough do make the jump up."

Stapleton is currently sidelined following ankle surgery last month but, when he does return, he should prove a serious addition to the Marino ranks. He was corner-back on the Laois team that claimed All-Ireland minor glory in 2003, beating Dublin in a replay, and subsequently was part of the Laois U21 set-up that won a Leinster title in 2006.

He was involved with the senior squad for a number of years before nailing down a regular place under his former underage boss, Sean Dempsey, making his first SFC start in 2009.

"Things didn't go ideally for me in 2010 -- one of those years," the 25-year-old reflected.

He hasn't given up hope of a Laois recall under new boss Justin McNulty -- but first he faces another six weeks of rehabilitation before he can resume jogging in March, or April at the latest.

"Naturally, I would love to wear the Laois jersey again," Stapleton stressed. "I spoke to Justin before Christmas ... he is keeping tabs on my recovery."

Stapleton is likely to face some familiar faces on the Dublin circuit. Four well-known Laois footballers -- Colm Parkinson, Darren Rooney, Colm Begley and Michael J Tierney -- have joined Parnells over the past two years, while last week it emerged that Brendan Quigley is transferring from Timahoe to Fingallians.

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