The Laois hurlers are facing a massive injury crisis with the news that up to seven players who played in the win over Offaly in the Allianz Hurling League could miss this Sunday’s trip to play Galway.
And a number of those have been ruled out long term.
Matthew Whelan (broken thumb), Podge Lawlor (hamstring), Conor Phelan (cruciate) and Stephen ‘Picky’ Maher (broken finger) are all definitely out while Willie Dunphy (hamstring), Cha Dwyer (tonsilitis) and Ben Conroy (pneumonia) are all doubtful.
In addition, Rosenallis’s John Lennon, who had been on the comeback trail, has damaged ankle ligaments while PJ Scully is gone from the panel following a litany of injury frustrations.
Whelan and Lawlor are expected to be out for the rest of the league and Phelan is out for the season.
Dunphy hasn’t trained since the Offaly game while illness has Conroy and Dwyer extremely doubtful.
“It’s tough going alright,” said manager Eamonn Kelly when contact by LaoisToday.
“It’s a case of digging in now and battling as hard as we can. We could lie down and complain but we’d get nothing out of that.
“It’s not a great time to be playing Galway – they’re one of the top three teams in the country. But it’s an opportunity for lads now to get a chance and get game time. We’ve a young squad and we’re looking at this long term so this is a chance to blood these players.”
Kelly has brought Rathdowney-Errill duo Jack Kelly and Eric Killeen up from the U-21 squad as well as Clough-Ballacolla’s Brian Corby and Mountmellick’s Donnacha Hartnett.
Sean Downey and Cian Taylor who were introduced in the win over Offaly will almost certainly start while Eanna Lyons, Aaron Dunphy, Aidan Corby and Stephen Bergin will have to come into contention.
On a positive note, Kelly was very impressed with the Laois lads with IT Carlow in last week’s Fitzgibbon Cup weekend.
“Enda Rowland gave an exhibition – he was incredible,” he said. “And Dwayne Palmer was outstanding on (Cork’s) Alan Cadogan against UCC in the semi-final. The last thing Carlow needed was extra time but it was from a Laois perspective it was very encouraging to have lads playing so well at that level.”
Cha Dwyer and Stephen Maher were also key men for Carlow.
The Laois team to play will be named to play Galway at training on Thursday night. Galway, having lost to Wexford, are unlikely now to win promotion back to Division 1B.
Laois look set to battle it out with Kerry and Offaly to avoid relegation.