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Opportunity of a lifetime as Killeshin and Ballyfin meet in Laois SFC semi-final

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Laois SFC Semi-final – Ballyfin v Killeshin
In O’Moore Park at 3.30pm

There have been plenty of novel pairings in the Laois SFC semi-finals over the last number of years – but rarely has there been one like this.

Both sides are seeking to make a first ever final; Ballyfin are in a first ever semi-final; Killeshin in a first since 1959.

Outside of Portlaoise, the Laois championship has been incredibly democratic in the last couple of years and in that last five seasons 13 different clubs have appeared in the last four.

At the other end and over the same time span 12 different teams have been in the relegation playoffs.

A year ago Ballyfin were one game away from dropping back to intermediate; now they’re one away from reaching a final.

It again shows how things can improve if a side gets their act together. But it also shows that the opportunity of reaching a final might not come up again.

Ballyfin have been the story of the championship, coming all the way from the fourth division in the league to the last four of the championship.

They’ve been in swashbuckling form, scoring 4-13 against Crettyard, 5-17 against Arles-Killeen and then knocking last year’s finalists O’Dempseys out in the quarter-final.

When a side gets on a run like that, it can really bring them a long way. Today they’ll have no fear of Killeshin and the Connolly’s, James Finn and the Moores being incredible quality to the table.

Killeshin, though, appear a finely balanced side who have arrived at this stage with little fanfare. They have three wins from three games, with the only bit of drama coming in their round 2 game against Arles-Killeen when they needed an injury time goal to win it.

The expected battle between Stephen Attride and Sean Moore will be both interesting and key to the game while Eoin Lowry and Michael Doran will be crucial for them up front.

There would appear to be a greater weight of expectation on Killeshin and how they handle that will be important.

Ballyfin’s element of surprise is gone now and while they’re outsiders once again, a win today would shock nobody.

There won’t be a whole lot in it but Killeshin might just be better placed to take that final step.

Prediction: Killeshin

SEE ALSO – From Primary School coaching to All Ireland minor glory – the GAA career of Oliver Phelan