If it doesn’t feel like too long ago that the Laois footballers exited the All-Ireland Qualifiers in Navan against Monaghan – well that is because it isn’t.
Exactly five months ago today, John Sugrue’s men went down to the eventual All-Ireland semi finalists by 0-19 to 1-11 in glorious sunshine.
It brought to an end a very positive first season in charge for the Kerry man that saw him win Laois’s first silverware since 2003.
Laois defeated neighbours Carlow to win the Division 4 football league title in March and then went on to reach their first Leinster final since 2007 – where they lost to eventual All-Ireland champions Dublin.
But tonight we are back in O’Moore Park for the start of the 2019 season – although we are still in 2018.
The GAA have ‘shortened’ their season with the league and championship ending earlier but in order to squeeze in these pre-season competitions, we find ourselves out in the depths of Winter for an O’Byrne Cup game.
Tonight at 6pm, Laois will face holders Meath in O’Moore Park – a team they have played a good bit in these type of competitions lately.
The sides met in Stradbally back in 2017 for Peter Creedon’s first game in charge which ended in a draw and they also clashed earlier this year in a fundraiser for Laois footballer Daniel O’Reilly who had sustained a serious head injury following an incident after a night out in Carlow.
Just what type of Meath team the Laois lads will face is anyone’s guess but the Laois team has been named and contains just three players from the one that started against Monaghan.
Damien O’Connor, Mark Timmons and John O’Loughlin are set to start while so too are Eoin Lowry and Gary Walsh who featured from the bench in the Monaghan loss.
Captain Stephen Attride is back for his first appearance in a Laois jersey since he fractured his skull in the dying minutes of the Leinster semi-final win over Carlow.
Portarlington’s Robbie Piggot, who played during the league but spent the summer in America, is included at wing-back while there are also starts for Denis Booth, Brian Daly and Marty Scully who have featured under previous managements.
There are debuts for goalkeeper Scott Osbourne from Portarlington, St Joseph’s Adam Campion at corner-back and Portarlington’s Sean Byrne at wing-forward. Byrne captained Laois to a Leinster minor final appearance in 2016.
The starting team in full is: Scott Osbourne (Portarlington); Adam Campion (St Joseph’s), Denis Booth (The Heath), Damien O’Connor (Timahoe); Stephen Attride (Killeshin), Mark Timmons (Graiguecullen), Robbie Piggot (Portarlington), John O’Loughlin (St Brigid’s, Dublin), Brian Daly (St Joseph’s); Marty Scully (Ballyroan-Abbey), David Conway (Arles-Kilcruise), Sean Byrne (Portarlington); Eoin Lowry (Killeshin), Gary Walsh (Ballylinan), Paul Kingston (Arles-Killeen)
Following the Meath game today, Laois are away to Wexford the following Saturday, December 15, and then away to Wicklow in early January.
We will bring you all the action as it happens this evening from 6pm.