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The Big Five: One of the biggest weekends for Laois GAA in a long time, while some crucial club games down for decision

FRIDAY JUNE 8

Barrowhouse V Park Ratheniska in Barrowhouse at 7.30pm
Laois Shopping Centre ACFL Division 2 Round 9

The ACFL Division 2 is wide open with three or four teams pushing for promotion. Two of those are Barrowhouse and Park Ratheniska. Barrowhouse sit third with 10 points, level with Courtwood while Park-Ratheniska are just one point behind in fourth.

This game will mean that if Barrowhouse win, they can move second, pending on the result from Courtwood’s game against Kilcavan. Park Ratheniska can spring ahead of Barrowhouse with a win and possibly Courtwood if they fail to get a result against Kilcavan. Both these teams would not have been recognised as promotion challengers at the beginning of the league but now it is a distinct possibility.

SATURDAY JUNE 9

Laois v Meath in Navan 3pm
Joe McDonagh Cup Round 5

Laois hurling has never been at such a low in a long time, and it could sink lower if Laois fail to win this weekend in Navan. Last week’s 10 point loss to Carlow was the final nail in the coffin as regards the slim hopes of reaching the Joe McDonagh Cup final. The sole focus last weekend was for the hurlers to pick up a victory and keep marching towards redemption, but the focus has now to switch to Laois fighting a possible relegation to the third tier of intercounty hurling.

Perhaps a positive thing that Laois hurling fans can clutch to is that Eamonn Kelly’s men have already faced one relegation final away to Antrim, where they managed to come away with the win. Another performance like that one is needed in Navan, so Laois can only hope that the hurlers can come right under serious pressure.

Graiguecullen V Ballyfin in Graiguecullen at 7.30pm
Laois Shopping Centre ACFL Division 2 Round 9

Again as previously stated, the ACFL Division 2 is currently wide open and there is some teams that are within touching distance of promotion and also relegation. These two teams are towards the latter end of the league, with three teams including Graiguecullen on four points, while two teams are on six points with Ballyfin being one.

A win for Ballyfin will ultimately secure their place in Division 2 for next year, while a win for Graiguecullen will blow the relegation battle wide open. Annanough and Kilcavan will be hoping Ballyfin can come away from Graiguecullen with a win, but as everyone will know, it is not an easy place to win.

Timahoe V Clonaslee St Manman’s in Timahoe at 7.30pm
Laois Shopping Centre ACFL Division 2 Round 9

It is unusual for one division to feature as often in The Big Five, but this weekend in Division 2 is so vital with some of clashes having the importance of deciding promotion and relegation. This fixture in particular will have a huge role to play in terms of the pack chasing promotion. Both sides are sitting on eight points, and with games running out, wins have never been so important.

Timahoe will be tipped as one of the favourites for the intermediate championship this summer and have plenty of quality throughout. Clonaslee have gotten their act back together since the poor start they made and now find themselves right in the mix.

SUNDAY JUNE 10

Carlow v Laois in Croke Park at 2pm
Leinster Senior Football Championship Semi Final

It is the biggest game of football for Laois since the 2012 All-Ireland quarter final against Dublin. Having so far achieved what they set out, John Sugrue’s men will be confident that they can keep marching a set up a Leinster final clash where it will Dublin waiting, baring some an astonishing upset. Carlow will be no push overs, which Laois will know from the last two meetings so far this year.

In the Dr Cullen, Carlow frustrated Laois but again the O’Moore men showed their resolve to secure their spot in the Division 4 final. The two sides met a week later, and in the open space of Croke Park, Laois found the going that little bit easier and managed to come away with a four point victory. Laois have kept their momentum going with wins over Wexford and Westmeath to set up this vital clash. It will be tense, and almost certainly a cracker but Laois will be hoping they can reach their first Leinster final since 2007.

SEE ALSO –¬†Looking Back: A point that never was from the 1995 Laois-Carlow battle that will never be forgotten