Brought to you in association with Joe Mallon Motors Portlaoise
A new chapter is being written in Laois football, as John Sugrue takes his charges to Wexford Park this evening in the hopes of securing a first round win in Leinster.
Having finished the National Football League as the only undefeated team in the country, winning their five league fixtures and the final in Croke Park against Carlow and in doing so, they captured their first title since the 2003 Leinster Championship.
Laois haven’t won back to back games in the Leinster Championship since 2007, but Laois midfielder John O’Loughlin is eager to make a change to that record in this year’s championship, but recognizes that they will be up against tough opposition this weekend.
A quarter-final against Westmeath awaits the winner, and Laois will be hoping they can get their first crack at Westmeath since the 2004 Leinster Final Replay defeat.
There are a number of changes to the team that played the Division 4 final. Robbie Pigott has been replaced by Ruaidhri C-Fennell who goes in at corner back for his championship debut with Stephen Attride moving to wing back. Brian Glynn has been replaced at wing forward by Damien O’Connor, who will make his first appearance of the year.
Donie Kingston moves to centre forward in place of Benny Carroll with his full forward spot going to the returning Gary Walsh. While the last change from the league final sees David Conway replace the injured Eoin Lowry.
LAOIS: Graham Brody; Ruaidhri C-Fennell, Mark Timmons, Gareth Dillon; Trevor Collins, Colm Begley, Stephen Attride; John O’Louhlin, Kieran Lillis; Alan Farrell, Donie Kingston, Damien O’Connor; Ross Munnelly, Gary Walsh, David Conway.
WEXFORD: Conor Swaine; Michael Furlong, Jim Rossiter, Conor Carty; Glen Malone, Naomhan Rossiter, Shane Doyle; Brian Malone, Daithi Waters; James Stafford, Eoghan Nolan, Ben Brosnan; Paul Curtis, Nick Doyle, Donal Shanley.
What Westmeath players should we watch out for?
There aren’t many Wexford players that would roll off the tongue, Ben Brosnan would ring a bell, but Wexford are very much in a period of transition and at the start of the year 22 of their 38 man panel had never graced a Senior inter-county jersey previously.
Daithi Waters in midfield will be a handful for Lillis and O’Loughlin, while Ben Brosnan will be pulling the strings in attack, with the likes of Paul Curtis and Nick Doyle posing the biggest threat up front.
What’s the history between the sides?
The last championship meeting between the two sides was back in 2014 in round two of the All-Ireland Qualifiers when Laois again had to travel to Wexford Park, to take on a Wexford side who lost to Dublin in the Leinster semi-final.
Laois came away with a one point victory, 0-18 to 0-17, and it was John O’Loughlin and Donie Kingston who helped Laois push through scoring four points each.
What are the odds?
Laois are currently 1/3 to open their Leinster campaign with a win, while Wexford are 11/4 to beat Laois. A draw is 9/1.
When, where and how much?
6.30pm on Saturday, May 12th in Wexford Park. 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 duty providing you blow by blow commentary, so tune into Midlands 103.