Home Sport GAA Previewing Portlaoise’s Leinster hurling game and the Divisional Football finals

Previewing Portlaoise’s Leinster hurling game and the Divisional Football finals

An extremely busy weekend of GAA is ahead of us – and it all gets underway this afternoon.

Portlaoise begin their Leinster hurling campaign away to Wicklow champions Glenealy in Aughrim at 1.30pm.

And then attention switches back to Stradbally where the Laois GAA Divisional football finals will take place.

The Shield final sees the West/North West take on the North East while the Cup final sees unbeaten South East face East Central.

Here, we look ahead to all three games.

Leinster IHC Quarter Final – Glenealy (Wicklow) v Portlaoise
In Aughrim at 1.30pm

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 Portlaoise 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 have some very good players.

Jonathan O’Neill Jr. and Jonathan O’Neill Snr are their main scorers while former inter-county footballer Leighton Glynn tends to make useful contributions from the bench.

Portlaoise are still without Aaron Bergin with a broken collarbone while dynamic forward David O’Mahony is also out with a broken hand sustained in the final.

They will certainly be up against it but if Portlaoise can pull off a win, they will have a home semi final.

Verdict: Portlaoise

Laois Divisional Football Competition Final 

Shield Final – North East v West/North West
In Stradbally at 5.30pm

Cup Final – East Central v South East
In Stradbally at 7pm

This competition has been run over the last month and has drawn great interest from players and spectators alike – with all funds raised going to the Kolbe Special School.

So tonight sees the culmination of the competition that Laois manager John Sugrue developed to assemble a panel for the 2019 season.

The Shield final is up first as the North East take on the West/North West in a bid for the first ever silverware in this competition.

The West/North West have struggled throughout and lost all three group games – with only fifteen players showing up for them in the last two of those.

The North East were without the O’Dempsey’s lads for the first two rounds and have not have any of the Courtwood players available to them either.

However, they defeated the West/North West easily enough when the sides met two weeks ago and it is difficult to see a different outcome tonight.

Verdict: North East

And the second game of the evening pits the two sides who have been most impressive to date against each other – the South East and the East Central.

The South East have blazed a trail thus far, winning all three games.

They were pushed very hard in their final game against the West/North West but defeated the North East and tonight’s opponents the East Central with relative ease before that.

The East Central had to defeat the North East in their final group game to seal a place here – which is exactly what they did.

The South East scored the final seven points to win the last time these two met and it is hard to see how they won’t replicate that result this evening.

Verdict: South East

SEE ALSO – Serious style as the Laois lads take over the All-Star Awards

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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.