Home Sport GAA Portlaoise hurling manager Fennelly hoping for Leinster run

Portlaoise hurling manager Fennelly hoping for Leinster run

The Portlaoise hurlers begin their Leinster intermediate championship campaign tomorrow in Wicklow.

The Town face Wicklow senior champions Glenealy in Joule Park, Aughrim at 1.30pm on Saturday.

The Senior A Hurling Championship in Laois came to a conclusion a few weeks ago as Portlaoise defeated The Harps to claim the cup.

It was their second championship win in the last four years at this grade and one which propels Eamon Fennelly’s side back to the Senior ranks for next year.

Laois’s Senior A champions and Wicklow’s Senior champions play in the Leinster Intermediate competition – hence their meeting at this stage.

When Laois were in this competition in 2015, they went down to eventual defeated finalists Kiltale of Meath who lost out to Bennettsbridge of Kilkenny.

Indeed, Kilkenny sides have dominated this competition since its inception in 2004 – winning ten of the stagings including the last six in a row.

Glenealy reached the Leinster final last year and were just edged out by Ballyragget who went on to contest the All-Ireland final against Kanturk of Cork but lost 1-18 to 1-17.

Glenealy retained their Wicklow championship two weeks ago, defeating Carnew Emmets by 4-10 to 1-12 and Portlaoise manager Fennelly says his side go into the game as underdogs.

He said: “We went down and watched the Wicklow final a few weeks ago and they were very impressive.

“They only lost the final of this competition by a point last year so that will give you an indication of how strong they are.

“There are pockets of hurling in every county and they are usually strong. They are at home and will be favourites.”

Fennelly also revealed that is is set to be without one of his key men through injury – while Aaron Bergin will be out for the rest of the year.

He said: “David O’Mahony actually played for most of the final against The Harps with a broken hand – so he is out of this one.

“While Aaron Bergin is out for the rest of the year as he suffered a double break of his collar bone and that is still fusing back together.

“So look there will be changes. We have options with the likes of Dean Lynch and Cian Houlihan. Leaving Cian out for the final was a really tough decision because he had played so well in the previous games.

“But he has responded really well to that and will be in the mix here.”

If Portlaoise get over Glenealy, they will face either Dublin champions Faughs or Offaly champions Ballinamere in the semi final which will be in O’Moore Park.

But Fennelly is not looking beyond this game.

He said: “We will just go down there and try make a go of it.

“We gave the lads a week off after the win but they have hit the ground running training wise since then so hopefully we can bring that performance on Saturday.”

SEE ALSO – Introducing the 2018 LaoisToday Senior hurling Team of the Year

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.