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What needs to happen for the Laois hurlers to make it to Joe McDonagh Cup final

Stephen Maher was the main man for DJ Carey's Carlow IT side

The Laois hurlers have certainly left themselves with a mountain to climb in the Joe McDonagh Cup after losing their opening two games to Westmeath and Kerry – but their win over Antrim in Dunloy the last day means they still have a chance of finising in the top two teams.

The reward for the top two teams is significant as they’ll meet in the Joe McDonagh Cup final in Croke Park on June 30.

They’ll also get a playoff against the third-placed team from Munster or Leinster while the final winners will get to play in the Liam MacCarthy Cup next year. Unless they’re Kerry – who should they win the new Tier 2 competition will have to play off against the bottom Munster team.

That same situation doesn’t apply to Leinster teams so should Laois win it out they’d replace either Dublin or Offaly in Leinster for 2019.

Right now, the Laois hurlers are hanging on by their fingertips. They take on Carlow this Saturday at 3pm in O’Moore Park. Another loss would end their hopes – and also leave them needing a win in Navan against Meath the following weekend to avoid automatic relegation to the Christy Ring Cup.

There is one scenario where if results go to plan Laois will be guaranteed a final place – and there are numerous ways in which a number of teams can finish on six points, meaning that scoring difference would have to be used.

The remaining games are:

Round 4 – Saturday, June 2

Laois v Carlow, O’Moore Park at 3pm
Westmeath v Antrim, TEG Cusack Park, Mullingar at 3pm
Meath v Kerry in Pairc Tailteann, Navan at 3pm

Round 5 – Saturday, June 9

Antrim v Kerry, Dunloy at 3pm
Carlow v Westmeath, Netwatch Cullen Park at 3pm
Meath v Laois, Pairc Tailteann at 3pm

It’ll all become somewhat clearer after next weekend’s games but for now we’ll just explain what needs to happen for Laois to make sure of finishing in the top two.

What needs to happen for Laois to definitely make the final?

Laois need to beat Carlow on Saturday and Meath in their final game to have any chance. To be guaranteed to finish in the top two they also need Westmeath to win their remaining games to finish on 10 points and out in front in first place.

By Westmeath and Laois winning their two remaining games – with both of them beating Carlow – would mean that Carlow would be out. It would leave the Antrim-Kerry game crucial. A Kerry win there (assuming they beat Meath) would mean Laois and Kerry finish level on six points but Kerry would go through on the head-to-head.

If Laois and Antrim finish as the only two teams on six points, then Laois will go through because of their win over Antrim.

But the first thing they must do is defeat Carlow this weekend.

SEE ALSO – Explained: How Laois’s football season could pan out if they defeat Carlow

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Steven Miller is owner and managing editor of LaoisToday.ie. From Laois, Steven studied Journalism in DCU and has 14 years experience in the media, almost 10 of those in an editorial role. Husband of Emily, father of William and Lillian, he's happiest when he's telling stories or kicking a point.