The Laois senior hurling team to play Westmeath on Saturday in the opening round of the Joe McDonagh Cup will see three Laois players make their first championship start.
Joe Phelan will be the sole representative from county champions Camross in the starting 15 as he will make his championship debut at corner-back.
Ballinakill’s Podge Lawlor will also make his first start, although he did feature as a sub against Dublin in the All Ireland Qualifiers last year, while Rathdowney-Errill’s James Ryan is named at wing forward.
In total the side shows two changes from the team that beat Antrim in the Division 1B relegation playoff in March in their last outing – with Stephen Bergin and PJ Scully missing out in favour of Eric Killeen and Aidan Corby.
There is also no place for Stephen ‘Picky’ Maher who has returned to the squad after a lengthy absence due to injury.
Laois get their campaign underway at 3pm in O’Moore Park in what is the first of five group games in the Joe McDonagh Cup.
They are away to Kerry next weekend with an away trip to Antrim the week after. They are then at home to Carlow and away to Westmeath. The top two sides in the six-team competition will reach the final in Croke Park on June 30 in what will be a curtain raiser to the Leinster final.
Laois beat Westmeath in the Leinster championship round robin last year – and there’s expected to be a familiar face on the Westmeath team in the shape of goalkeeper Paddy Carroll. The Mountrath man and former Laois player has been living in Westmeath for the last couple of years and threw his lot in with Westmeath last year.
The full Laois starting team is as follows:
1 – Enda Rowland (Abbeyleix)
2 – Lee Cleere (Clough-Ballacolla)
3 – Leigh Bergin (Shanahoe)
4 – Joe Phelan (Camross)
5 – Eric Killeen (Rathdowney-Errill)
6 – Matthew Whelan (Borris-Kilcotton)
7 – Podge Lawlor (Ballinakill)
8 – Aidan Corby (Clough-Ballacolla)
9 – Paddy Purcell (Rathdowney-Errill)
10 – James Ryan (Rathdowney-Errill)
11 – Cha Dwyer (Ballinakill)
12 – Ben Conroy (Slieve Bloom)
13 – Ross King (Rathdowney-Errill)
14 – Neil Foyle (Borris-Kilcotton)
15 – Willie Dunphy (Clough-Ballacolla)