The Laois senior hurling team for Sunday’s Leinster championship clash with Westmeath has been named.
It shows four changes from the side that beat Kerry in the recent epic Division 1 relegation playoff with Dwayne Palmer, Ciaran Collier, Aidan Corby and Patrick Whelan all coming into the side. Ryan Mullaney, Liam O’Connell, John Lennon and Neil Foyle are the ones to make way with injury and suspension (in Foyle’s case) forcing manager Eamonn Kelly’s hand.
Only eight of the side that started last year’s All Ireland qualifier loss to Clare are starting on Sunday showing the high level of turnover that Kelly has had to contend with since taking on the job.
Westmeath failed to win promotion from Division 2A having lost their two opening round games although they did beat eventual champions Antrim in one of their outings.
Waterford man Michael Ryan is in his third year in charge of Westmeath and last year they topped the Leinster round robin by winning all three games, including a 14-point win over an Offaly side that Eamonn Kelly was in charge of.
They later lost to Galway and then Limerick while their county U-21 team recorded an historic win over Kilkenny last year.
Two teams will emerge from the four-team group with one to play Offaly in the quarter-final and the other to meet Davy Fitzgerald’s Wexford.
This weekend sees Laois host Westmeath while Meath make their first appearance in the Leinster championship since 2004 and they host Kerry in Navan in what will be a first provincial clash between the two.
Next weekend Laois make the trip to Navan while Westmeath have Kerry at home. The final round of games will be on Sunday, May 14, with Laois away to Kerry and Westmeath at home to Meath. The Leinster quarter-finals will be two weeks later on the weekend of May 27/28.
The Laois team in full is:
- Enda Rowland (Abbeyleix)
- Cahir Healy (Portlaoise)
- Leigh Bergin (Shanahoe)
- Dwane Palmer (Camross)
- Ciaran Collier (Camross)
- Cha Dwyer (Ballinakill)
- Lee Cleere (Clough-Ballacolla)
- Ross King (Rathdowney-Errill)
- Paddy Purcell (Rathdowney-Errill)
- Cian Taylor (Portlaoise)
- Aidan Corby (Clough-Ballacolla)
- Ben Conroy (Slieve Bloom)
- Willie Dunphy (Clough-Ballacolla)
- Stephen Maher (Clough-Ballacolla)
- Patrick Whelan (Borris-Kilcotton)