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Your guide to the Laois minor footballers Leinster championship semi final clash with Kildare

Brian Whelan - Photo Paul Dargan

The Laois minor footballers take on Kildare in the Leinster championship semi final this evening.

Here we guide you through what you need to know:

When, where, what time?

The game throws in at 8pm in O’Moore Park, Portlaoise.

Team news

Laois minor football boss Donncha Phelan named his starting team to face Kildare on Thursday.

Ahead of the game, Laois have named an unchanged team from the one which defeated Longford in the final group game last month.

There is more positive news for Laois too with the news that a number of players who have missed most of the championship so far have returned to full fitness.

Vice-captain Oisin Byrne (knee), Eamonn Delaney (ankle), Kevin Swayne (ankle) and Ciaran Burke (concussion) have all returned to training in recent weeks and are set to be involved tonight.

LAOIS: Michael O’Connell (Portlaoise); Nathan Little (Courtwood), Sean Greene (Emo), Shaun Fitzpatrick (Ballyroan-Abbey); Simon Fingleton (Park-Ratheniska), Eddie Critchley (Portlaoise), Mark Kehoe (Spink); Conor Goode (Stradbally), Ben Brennan (Portlaoise); PJ Ward (Portarlington), Brian Whelan (Ballyroan-Abbey), Oisin Hooney (St Joseph’s); Colin Dunne (Arles-Killeen), Rioghan Murphy (Portarlington), Paddy Hosey (Emo)

Meanwhile, Kildare have also named their team for the semi final and none of the players which featured in their 5-10 to 1-6 victory in the group stage over Laois last year are involved.

KILDARE: Cian Burke; Conan Boran, Jack Quinn, Tommy Gill; Oisin O’Rourke, Ryan Comeau, Mark Maguire; Mikey Spillane, Shane Flynn; Ciaran O’Brien, Aaron Browne, Aedan Boyle; Oisin Milmoe, Daniel Woulfe, Eoin Bagnall

How did both teams reach this stage?

The top team from the Groups involving Laois and Kildare were assured a spot in the semi final – and both sides achieved this.

Donncha Phelan’s men secured a draw with Carlow in Round 1 thanks to a last gasp Brian Whelan free and then produced further heroics two weeks ago against Westmeath.

Trailing by eight points at the start of the second half, goals from Oisin Hooney, PJ Ward and Brian Whelan saw them turns things around and withstand nine minutes of injury time to win by a point.

Laois knew a win over Longford in their final group game would see them progress to the semi final and goals from Brian Whelan and Rioghan Murphy helped them achieve this.

Meanwhile. Kildare were in a group alongside Kilkenny, Louth and Wexford where they won all three games to reach this stage.

The other semi final sees Dublin face Westmeath.

What have Laois been like at this grade in recent seasons? 

Last year was the first time that the minor grade introduced a new age limit of U-17 instead of U-18.

The format of the competition also changed in Leinster with two groups introduced and Laois were placed alongside Longford, Wexford, Carlow and Kildare.

Laois got off to a flying start with a 1-12 to 0-11 win over today’s opponents in Round 1, before defeating Wexford by 0-11 to 2-3 in Round 2.

They needed a last gasp Sean Michael Corcoran free to grab a crucial draw with tonight’s opponents Carlow in Round 3 and although they were well beaten by Kildare in their final group game, Laois still reached the semi finals as they finished second in the group.

But this would be the end of the road as Meath ran out 25 point winners in that game.

What have Kildare been like at minor level?

They have been irrepressible at this level in recent years, appearing in six of the last seven finals and triumphing in 2013, 2015 and 2016.

Laois and Kildare clashed in the 2016 Leinster final.

It was a first provincial final appearance in this grade for Laois since 2007 and while full-forward Diarmuid Whelan contributed seven points, they were outclassed by a more powerful Kildare outfit.

Kildare ran out 1-18 to 0-10 winners on the day. Here is the teams that played on that day:

Laois: Ross McGrath (Portarlington); James Kelly (St Joseph’s), Diarmuid Bennett (Portarlington), Richie Hitchcock (Park-Ratheniska); Shane Bolger (Killeshin), Sean Byrne (Portarlington), James O’Connor (Timahoe) (0-1); Liam Delaney (Ballyroan-Abbey), Max Connolly (Ballyfin); Ciaran Comerford (The Harps) (0-1), Adam Deering (Killeshin) (0-1), Finbarr Crowley (Emo); Alan Kinsella (Courtwood) (0-1), Diarmuid Whelan (Ballyroan-Abbey) (0-6, 0-4f), Johnny Kelly (O’Dempsey’s). Subs: Rob Tyrrell (Camross) for Delaney h/t, John Kavanagh (Portlaoise) for Johnny Kelly h/t, Mark McDermott (Killeshin) for Comerford 35, Eoin Lowry (Killeshin) for Kinsella 42, Dylan Feane (Portlaoise) for Crowley 47, Conor Brennan (Ballyroan-Abbey) for O’Connor 49.

Kildare: Luke Mullins; John O’Toole, Mark Dempsey, David Shaw; Tony Archbold (0-2), James Gibbons, Sam Doran; David Marnell, Aaron Masterson; Kevin Foley (0-1), Jimmy Hyland (0-7, 0-4f), David Kelly; Ciaran Kelly (0-2), Brian McLoughlin (0-3), Jack Robinson (1-1). Subs: Cian Costigan (0-1) for D Kelly 21, Paddy Woodgate (0-1) for Foley 45, Danny O’Sullivan for Archbold 50, James Burke for McLoughlin 59.

What will happen after this game?

If Laois win, they will face either Dublin or Westmeath in the final and will also be guaranteed of a place in the All-Ireland Quarter finals.

If they lose, they are out.

SEE ALSO – St Joseph’s hit Port for eight goals, Kilcruise and The Heath draw and all of this evening’s Laois GAA results

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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.