Laois got their 2018 National Hurling League Division 1B campaign off to a losing start against Limerick in the Gaelic Grounds last Sunday on the scoreline of 1-25 to 0-18.
Despite the loss, there were plenty of positive aspects about the Laois performance on the day.
Eamonn Kelly’s men were without eight of their best players for that game and they were up against a Limerick side who had just claimed the Munster Hurling League title.
For a second week in a row, Laois will be up against it as the reigning All-Ireland champions Galway are coming to tow.
O’Moore Park will surely attract a big crowd on Saturday evening with the ball to be thrown in at 7pm.
Laois have made four changes from their defeat to Limerick. Meanwhile, Galway have named a team including eight of those who won the All-Ireland last year – but no Joe Canning.
LAOIS TEAM: Enda Rowland (Abbeyleix); Donncha Hartnett (Mountmellick), Leigh Bergin (Shanahoe), Colm Stapleton (Borris-Kilcotton); Podge Lawlor (Ballinakill), Matthew Whelan (Borris-Kilcotton), Eric Killeen (Rathdowney-Errill); Paddy Purcell (Rathdowney-Errill), James Ryan (Rathdowney-Errill); Aidan Corby (Clough-Ballacolla), Ben Conroy (Slieve Bloom), Cian Taylor (Portlaoise); Ross King (Rathdowney-Errill), Neil Foyle (Borris-Kilcotton), Willie Dunphy (Clough-Ballacolla)
GALWAY TEAM: James Skehill, Adrian Tuohy, John Hanbury, Shane Bannon; Greg Lally, Padraig Mannion, Aidan Harte; Johnny Coen; Padraig Breheny, Sean Linnane, Joseph Cooney, Niall Burke; Conor Whelan, Conor Cooney, Davey Glennon
What’s the history between the sides?
The meeting of these two sides has become regular since Galway entered the Leinster Hurling Championship. Last year, Laois faced Galway in the league in Salthill but that day is one to forget as Eamonn Kelly’s side went down by 26 points.
The last encouraging performance against Galway was back in 2014 in the Leinster quarter-final, when Cheddar Plunkett was at the helm.
Laois lost by two points on the day but ten of that day’s starting team have since stepped away from the inter-county seen.
What Galway players should we watch out for?
From last week’s game against Antrim, Galway’s main men were the two Cooneys. Conor grabbed six points while Joe knocked over three points.
Brian Concannon, who was on the edge of the All-Ireland winning side, scored 1-1 and could prove a handful for Laois’ defence.
What’s Galway’s season been like so far?
Galway are obviously defending All-Ireland champions, and after waiting 29 years to win Liam McCarty, many of their players are still being reintroduced back into the team, with the likes of Joe Canning and Conor Whelan still to play this season.
They overcame Antrim last weekend in Salthill, albeit in underwhelming fashion. They should still prove too much for Laois.
Is there a curtain raiser?
This game is a stand alone fixture, with the footballers set to travel west to take on Leitrim on Sunday at 2pm.
Cumann na mBunscol Laois will be providing the Guard of Honour for All-Ireland Hurling Champions as they enter the field.
What are the odds?
Laois are 10/1 to overturn the All-Ireland champions, while Galway are 1/50 to get the win in O’Moore Park and a draw is 33/1.
How much does it cost to get in?
It’s €15 for adults. Children U-16 go free.
Where can I follow the game?
We’ll be live-blogging the game on LaoisToday.ie as well as giving some updates on our new LaoisToday Sport Snapchat account. For those wanting to listen to commentary, Jack Nolan will be on Midlands 103.
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