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Previewing a busy Sunday ahead of Laois club football as Round 2 draws to a close

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It’s another very busy day of Laois GAA championship action and we look ahead to all of the action below.

Laois Shopping Centre SFC Round 2 – Qualifier
Stradbally v Clonaslee St Manmans Gaels in O’Moore Park at 12.30pm

An unusual local derby given the fact that a number of Annanough players are involved with the Clonaslee Gaels set up – and they come up against their parishioners Stradbally, champions as recently as 2016.

Seven Annanough players featured in Clonaslee’s opening round loss to Killeshin and more could see action today.

Stradbally were involved in a classic against Arles-Kilcruise in Round 1 and had genuine grievances over Kevin Meaney’s crucial second-half goal in that game. They’ll be concerned at conceding 2-16 but they’ve had almost three weeks to right those wrongs.

The losers of this game will be out of the championship and it would mean a third relegation battle in a row for Clonaslee. For Stradbally it would be a fourth in five years.

Clonaslee’s performance against Killeshin looks even better now given Killeshin’s demolition of Ballylinan last night and they should improve from that outing, given how little game time they had prior to that.

Stradbally are hot 1/6 favourites but we think it could be close enough. Still Barney Maher’s men should have enough scoring power to pull through.

Prediction: Stradbally

Laois Shopping Centre SFC Round 2 Winners
Arles Kilcruise v Emo in O’Moore Park at 2pm

A very tight one to call with two of the more impressive performers from Round 1 going up against each other.

Arles opened up a big lead against Stradbally but were nearly caught in the end while Emo recovered from a very poor performance against Arles-Killeen in the drawn game to put in arguably the best display of the championship in the replay, scoring 1-20 and winning by eight points.

Arles have a selection of quality forwards and that will give them a chance against most opponents.

But if Emo get on the front foot, as they did against Killeen, they have the pace and the scoring power to win this one.

Prediction: Emo

Laois Shopping Centre SFC Round 2 – Qualifier
The Heath v Ballyroan Abbey in O’Moore Park at 5.30pm

It’s 25 years since these two clubs did battle in one of the most memorable Laois SFC finals. This evening, however, they are battling for championship survival.

They were both very competitive in their opening round games, The Heath against St Joseph’s and Ballyroan-Abbey against Portarlington.

Ballyroan-Abbey have great scoring options with Scott Conroy, Michael Tierney, Padraig McMahon and Diarmuid Whelan all up front.

But The Heath might just be better balanced and for that reason we can see them having enough to pull through.

Prediction: The Heath

Laois Shopping Centre SFC Round 2 Winners
St Joseph’s v Portarlington in O’Moore Park at 7pm

Two teams that are in the mix for that semi-congratulatory tag of ‘The second best team in Laois’.

While Portlaoise are raging favourites, either of these could get to a final if they avoid The Town. And for either club that would be a big deal. It’s 2002 since Joseph’s were in the county final, 2001 since Port were last there.

Port have a great spread of young players and good quality ones too. But they’ll need to improve from their opening round win over Ballyroan.

St Joseph’s are well organised, defensive and in Michael Keogh have a forward in top form.

They might just have enough to book a quarter-final place.

Prediction: St Joseph’s

Laois Shopping Centre IFC Round 2 – Qualifier
Mountmellick Gaels v Barrowhouse in Ratheniska at 12.30pm

Mountmellick Gaels came into this championship as the outright favourites but their opening round loss to Courtwood showed that it certainly won’t be simple.

They get a chance to bounce back today and book a quarter-final place. They should have enough for Barrowhouse, who are keen to avoid a third relegation final in a row.

Prediction: Mountmellick Gaels

Laois Shopping Centre IFC Round 2 – Winners
Rosenallis v The Rock in McCann Park at 12.30pm

Like Mountmellick-Barrowhouse, this is a novel enough championship fixture.

The Rock were senior for nearly 20 years, during which time Rosenallis were mostly junior. There was also a time when a number of Rosenallis natives played for The Rock.

Today their paths align in championship football for the first time in a long time and Rosenallis appear the club with the momentum now.

Leinster junior champions two years ago, intermediate semi-finalists last year and all the more impressive as they are fighting on two fronts, with most of their players on the club’s hurling team as well.

The Rock dropped out of senior in 2013 and their semi-final appearance in 2016 was their best showing yet. They are able to compete – as evidenced by bringing Portlaoise to a replay in last year’s quarter-final – but the form line, in the way of Rosenallis’s big win over Portlaoise and The Rock’s narrow one over Barrowhouse, suggest Rosenallis can automatically go through to the semi-finals.

Prediction: Rosenallis

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