Brought to you in association with the Final Furlong, Ballybrittas
The senior and intermediate football championships got underway last night and there is another three down for decision this evening.
Once again, there is one senior game and two intermediate games to be played at venues across the county.
Here we look ahead to all three:
SFC R1 – Ballyroan-Abbey v Crettyard Gaels
Venue: O’Moore Park
Date: Friday, July 28
Referee: Clifford Ward (Portarlington)
Odds: Ballyroan-Abbey 4/6, Crettyard Gaels 6/4, Draw 9/1
This is a clash of two teams that endured miserable league campaigns who will be looking to turn things around in the championship.
Both sides were relegated from the respective divisions that they operated in – Ballyroan from 1A and Crettyard from 1B.
However, there is still very little to separate the teams on paper.
Crettyard Gaels, who are amalgamated with Spink once again, were the surprise package of last year as they reached the last four for the first time in their history before losing to eventual champions Stradbally.
They will not have Cha Dwyer this time though as he is travelling and understood to be only coming home for Ballinakill games.
But much of how they get on will depend on the exploits of Evan O’Carroll, Cormac Murphy and Cristóir Maher.
Ballyroan-Abbey are under the guidance of former Emo boss and current head of Irish boxing Pat Ryan.
Pádraig McMahon and MJ Tierney are probably their most notable players but they have a number of exciting younger lads ready to make an impact this year.
Diarmuid Whelan has excelled at minor level for Laois in the past two years while Adam Brennan, Conor Brennan and Charlie Whelan are all also likely to push for places.
On the injury front, Martin Scully is struggling to recover from a back problem but other than that they are ok.
There is likely to be just a kick of a ball between these two but we reckon the experience gained by Crettyard from last year might just get them over the line.
Verdict: Crettyard Gaels
IFC R1 – Courtwood v The Rock
Date: Friday, July 28
Referee: Pat Moran (Graiguecullen)
This on paper is a total mismatch. A side who contested the Division 2 league final against a team who were relegated from it.
Courtwood reached the Division 2 decider after coming through a semi-final against Rosenallis.
And they far from disgraced themselves in the decider as they ran Mountmellick, a senior team, very close.
In Alan Kinsella and Rory Doyle, they have two very exciting young players while Niall Donoher and Paddy Wilson will provide experience.
But it is not all good news either. Danny Luttrell is still in America while Ian Corcoran and Luke Doyle, who both missed the Division 2 decider, are rated as doubtful to make the match.
As for The Rock, things have not exactly gone to plan this year.
Despite reaching the intermediate semi-final last year where they lost out to Timahoe, they suffered relegation from Division 2 of the league.
They lost by 2-14 to 2-7 when the pair met in the league and there isn’t much to suggest they can turn that around now.
Thomas McDonald and Aaron Dowling are noted as injury concerns ahead of the game too.
So barring an upset, this should go to Courtwood.
IFC R1 – Barrowhouse v Portlaoise
Date: Friday, July 28
Referee: Des Cooney (St Joseph’s)
Barrowhouse have made headlines all year long following the transfer saga surrounding Brian Daly.
He has now gone to St Joseph’s and Barrowhouse will be keen to get on with matters on the field now.
Without Daly, they enjoyed a decent league campaign in Division 2 which saw them right in the promotion mix until the very end.
They ended up in the relegation final last year where they got the better of Kilcavan in the end and John Larkin’s side will be hoping for better this time.
But they are not without injury problems. James Brennan will miss the Portlaoise game and so too will Emmet Malone who has been out for a long time now with a knee injury.
As for Portlaoise, it is difficult to know how they will get on because they are sure to lose players to their senior team.
Unfortunately for Barrowhouse, Portlaoise’s senior team are not in action until Saturday night which means the intermediates should have a full hand to pick from.
They operated in Division 1B and finished comfortably in mid table.
This should be close, but perhaps Portlaoise will just edge it.