It’s been an eventful start to the Laois hurling championship season with Clough-Ballacolla and Rathdowney-Errill playing out a thrilling draw on Thursday night and Castletown Gaels shocking champions Camross on Friday.
The action continues this evening with double headers in Mountrath and O’Moore Park.
SHC – Ballinakill v Abbeyleix, O’Moore Park at 7.30pm
The local rivalries in the Laois SHC continue this evening with the clash of neighbours Ballinakill and Abbeyleix.
Both are outside the Big 4 of the Laois club hurling scene but they’re knocking on the door and have shown on more than one occasion in the past that they’re capable of occasionaly overturning the more fancied sides.
Last year Abbeyleix recorded a famous win over Camross in Round 2 but later went down badly to Clough-Ballacolla in the semi-final. The previous year, Ballinakill could well have reached the final but were beaten after a replay by eventual champions Borris-Kilcotton in the semi-final.
Ballinakill are an ageing side and still rely heavily on the likes of Seamus Dwyer and Eamon Jackman, who will both be 36 this year. Jimmy Walsh isn’t named in their starting team but could yet feature but they still have quality in key places in the likes of Podge Lalor at full-back, John Walsh at centre and Sean Downey and Cha Dwyer in attack.
Abbeyleix had a good championship season last year but Eoin Reilly has been working in the Middle East and Ryan Peacock has gone travelling. Reilly was sensational last year outfield and while he’s expected to play some part this year, it’s hard to expect him to hit the same heights.
Enda Rowland, Jake Cranny, the Carrolls, Eoghan Fennelly and the promising Liam Delaney all provide class for Abbeyleix around the field.
There shouldn’t be much in it, but in a tight game, we’ll give the nod to Ballinakill.
Laois SHC ‘A’ – Clonaslee v Trumera in O’Moore Park at 6pm
Trumera return to O’Moore Park for the first time since winning the IHC title last year for the second time in three years.
Clonaslee will represent a step up however and even if they endured a tough championship season last year and seem a bit off the standard they were at when they reached the final in 2015, they should still have enough to get off to a winning start.
Laois IHC – Camross v Park-Ratheniska/Timahoe at 6pm; Rathdowney-Errill v Borris-Kilcotton at 7.30pm. Both in Mountrath
The final two games in the Laois IHC take place as a double header in Mountrath.
The opening game sees Camross and new club Park-Ratheniska/Timahoe meet again just a couple of weeks after Camross won the Division 3 league final between the two.
Camross have since lost about a third of that team to their senior outfit and while they have the numbers to cope to an extent, it should allow the newcomers get off the mark.
The second game sees last season’s beaten finalists take on the side relegated from the Senior ‘A’ last year.
It’s a very tough one to call; Rathdowney-Errill reached the Division 1A league final but lost a handful of players to their seniors while Borris-Kilcotton have yet to play senior but could lose some from the side that made that league semi-final.
There won’t be much in it but we’ll give a hesitant vote to Borris-Kilcotton.
Verdicts: Park-Ratheniska/Timahoe and Borris-Kilcotton