Emo GAA club are busy preparing to host a Leinster club championship match after a decision was taken to play this weekend’s provincial quarter-final against Dublin side Ballyboughal in their home grounds rather than in O’Moore Park.
Emo have reached this stage of the competition following a dramatic Laois final win over Portlaoise and a hard-fought win away to Wicklow champions Hollywood last weekend.
And in a break with the trend of recent years, the game will be played in Emo rather than O’Moore Park which has generally been used for the Leinster club games involving the Laois intermediate or junior champions.
O’Dempsey’s played in O’Moore Park last year when they played in the Leinster intermediate club championship while Courtwood did the same in 2014 when they got to the Leinster junior semi-final.
Indeed the last time Emo were in Leinster – when they won the Laois intermediate in 2012 – they also played in the county grounds.
But with their grounds having undergone a significant amount of development work in recent years – and there’s even more in the pipeline with plans for a new complex including a stand – they have opted to host Saturday’s game. Their grounds were a hive of activity on the Bank Holiday Monday with club volunteers working hard to have the venue in top order.
Indeed the entire site is now a vibrant hub of local life in Emo as the village’s primary school, community hall, GAA grounds and soccer pitch are all in the same location.
When the Leinster junior and intermediate championships were first introduced it was common practice for the competing clubs to host the games. Crettyard won the Leinster intermediate title in their own grounds in 2005 while Park-Ratheniska won the junior in 2006 and Ballyroan-Abbey won their Leinster intermediate final in 2008 in Abbeyleix.
Emo will be hoping to draw inspiration from those sides and will be fancied against the Dublin representatives.
With 32 senior teams in Dublin, their intermediate club teams have traditionally struggled in Leinster. Ballyboughal were beaten by Na Fianna’s second team in the Dublin championship but came through a playoff to decide what team would play in the provincial competition.