2018 was a year to forget for the Laois hurlers and although it is not yet over, they have a chance to begin to make amends this afternoon.
Eddie Brennan’s charges are in action in Round 1 of the Walsh Cup at 2pm in Birr this afternoon against Offaly.
Laois endured a very disappointing year last season as, despite maintaining their Division 1B league status, they failed to win or even reach the final of the Joe McDonagh Cup.
Instead, following defeats to Kerry, Westmeath and Carlow, Laois were left in a relegation fight with Meath and Antrim.
But they did mange to defeat both of those teams and save themselves from the drop to the Christy Ring.
Eamon Kelly departed as manager in the off season and he was replaced by Kilkenny man Eddie Brennan – who has set a target of reaching the Joe McDonagh Cup final.
In fairness to him, speaking to the media before this competition, he indicated that he will use the Walsh Cup to try out new players.
And as ever for this stage of a season, it’s a mix of new and experienced faces.
There are first competitive starts for Camross duo Andrew Mortimer and Mark Dowling as well as Portlaoise’s Aaron Bergin.
Aaron Dunphy and Paddy Keating also make a return having missed most of last season while Padraig Delaney from The Harps is included having featured briefly in the 2018 season.
PJ Scully and Colm Stapleton form an all Borris-Kilcotton midfield pairing while players like Enda Rowland, Leigh Bergin, Ryan Mullaney, Stephen Maher and Willie Dunphy are now the side’s experienced campaigners.
LAOIS: Enda Rowland (Abbeyleix); Andrew Mortimer (Camross), Leigh Bergin (Shanahoe), Donnacha Hartnett (Mountmellick); Jack Kelly (Rathdowney-Errill), Ryan Mullaney (Castletown), Padraig Delaney (The Harps); Colm Stapleton (Borris-Kilcotton), PJ Scully (Borris-Kilcotton); Stephen Maher (Clough-Ballacolla), Paddy Keating (Rosenallis), Aaron Dunphy (Borris-Kilcotton); Mark Dowling (Camross), Willie Dunphy (Clough-Ballacolla), Aaron Bergin (Portlaoise)
The Offaly team named before the game contains just four players who played in their Leinster championship Round 4 defeat to Dublin in the summer – their last competitive game.
Keeper Eoghan Cahill is there and he is joined by two of the full back line from that day – Thomas Spain and Ben Conneely.
Shane Kinsella is at midfield having played wing forward against the Dubs and other than that it is a new team for manager Kevin Martin.
Throw in is at 2pm and we will bring you all the action as it happens on our Live Blog.