Home Sport GAA Previews of Saturday night’s SFC double header

Previews of Saturday night’s SFC double header

Arles-Kilcruise are one of four sides we preview for tonight's games

Brought to you in association with Crown Paints Portlaoise and The Anvil Inn

The senior championship is well under way and tonight we will have two more games in O’Moore Park.

So far we have seen O’Dempsey’s and Ballyroan-Abbey get the better of Ballyfin Gaels and Crettyard Gaels respectively and after tonight, the fates of another four teams will be sealed.

Here we look ahead to both games:

SFC R1 – Arles-Kilcruise v Portlaoise

Venue: O’Moore Park
Date: Saturday, July 29
Time: 6pm
Referee: Eddie Kinsella (Courtwood)
Odds: Portlaoise 1/5, Arles-Kilcruise 7/2, Draw 12/1

Five or six years ago, this would have been a mouth-watering clash.

For a long time during Portlaoise’s incredible nine-in-a-row winning sequence, Arles-Kilcruise were the only side who could lay a glove on them in Laois.

The pair contested three finals between 2009 and 2012 and although The Town won each of them, they were pushed all the way in order to do so.

Now unfortunately for Arles-Kilcruise, time has caught up with them. The likes of Chris Conway, Ross Munnelly, Kevin Meaney, Anthony McElroy, David Conway and JP Conway are all the wrong side of 30.

But yet these brave warriors will take to the field once again tonight.

It hasn’t been a wonderful start to life under Ballyroan native Johnny Irwin for Kilcruise. They just about staved off relegation in Division 1B.

They will be without David Lawlor who is in America while there are injury doubts over Alan McLaughlin and Dylan Waters.

As for Portlaoise, they say an animal is always at its most dangerous when it is wounded – and to that end, it will be very interesting to see how The Town react in 2017 after their crown was stolen from them by Stradbally last year.

They had a decent Division 1A league campaign – and looked odds on to reach the final only for somehow managing to slip up against Ballyroan-Abbey on the last round of fixtures.

Malachy McNulty’s side are set to be without at least four players from the side which lost last years county final.

Brian Smith and Brian Glynn are understood not to be making the commute from England this year while Cahir Healy reportedly suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury playing hurling against Clough-Ballacolla last weekend.

Meanwhile, Craig Rogers has been regraded to intermediate and scored three points in Portlaoise’s win over Barrowhouse last night.

Despite all of that, Portlaoise should still have too much in the tank for Kilcruise and any other result will be an upset.

Verdict: Portlaoise

SFC R1 – Arles-Killeen v Portarlington

Venue: O’Moore Park
Date: Saturday, July 29
Time: 7.30pm
Referee: Seamus Mulhare (The Heath)
Odds: Arles-Killeen 1/4, Portarlington 3/1, Draw 11/1

Portarlington will be looking to put a poor ACFL Division 1B final performance behind them when they face Arles-Killeen tonight.

The men in maroon looked to have had the game against Ballylinan won when they went a point up and a man up in injury time last month.

However, they somehow allowed Cathail Dunne to find space in their defence and score two late points to take the trophy away from them.

This is a young team – it still has experienced heads like David Murphy and Cathal Ryan – but by in large the majority of them are either just out of minor or in their early 20s.

Portarlington are a club who seem to be building all the time with a string of successful underage teams only to fail to make the step up to senior level.

The likes of Adam Ryan (trasnferred away), Keith Bracken (not playing) and Shane McAuley (not playing) all seemed like players who would turn their fortunes around but they are no longer involved for one reason or another.

As for Arles-Killeen, they are a bit like their neighbours Kilcruise in that they feel the effects of the clock ticking more than most.

The difference for them is that they have an X Factor in the Kingston brothers – Donie and Paul.

Donie is unquestionably the best footballer in Laois and it is no surprise that without him and Paul for much of the league, Killeen were eventually relegated to Division 1B.

But with the two of them now back, they should be enough for Killeen to get past Portarlington.

Verdict: Arles-Killeen

SEE ALSO – Sixteen young players to look out for in the Senior football championship

Previous articleRosenallis topple Feile champions Graiguecullen in league decider
Next articleDeaths in Laois – Saturday, July 29, 2017
Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.