It may be the first Saturday in November and the weather is as wet, miserable and wintery as it gets – but it’s a big day for two Laois hurling teams who are in Leinster club championship action.
Leinster Club IHC – Rosenallis v Tullaroan
In O’Moore Park at 1.30pm
Rosenallis are in hurling championship action for the third week running – and 12th weekend out of 15 when you consider all their hurling and football commitments going back to the end of July – when they take on Kilkenny intermediate champions Tullaroan in O’Moore Park this afternoon.
It’s arguably as tough a game as Rosenallis could expect in this competition with Tullaroan coming off the back of an impressive breakthrough county final win last Sunday against Thomastown.
Former Kilkenny great is playing full-forward for them and hit 1-2 in their 3-18 to 0-21 win over Thomastown, a result that brought an end to their intermediate woes having been beaten in two of the last three finals as well as a semi-final.
Tommy’s brother Pauric – named an All Star on Friday night – is at centre-back while Shane and Peter Walsh who hit 0-8 and 2-2 in last week’s final are decent players too.
Rosenallis have a fine young team and recorded a good win over Bagenalstown Gaels of Carlow last Saturday. They’ll have county man John Lennon back available after he missed that win due to injury.
But the Kilkenny clubs have been utterly dominant in this competition and have won nine of the last 10 Leinster titles in this grade.
A Rosenallis win would be a huge shock.
Leinster Club JHC – Mountmellick v Clonguish Gaels
In Glennon Brothers Pearse Park at 1.30pm
The Mountmellick hurlers were knocked out in the Laois intermediate semi-final back in mid-September but are representing the county in the Leinster junior championship as they were the last remaining first team in Laois.
They have kept busy on the challenge match circuit in the last couple of weeks and a run in this competition will stand to them in 2020.
They make the long trip to Longford to take on Longford senior champions Clonguish Gaels, who are graded at junior for this. Along with the Louth champions, they are the only senior winners in the Leinster junior which has teams from a variety of grades across the province.
Dublin and Kilkenny are the only counties whose junior champions play in this grade though the naming of competitions varies from county to county. Offaly and Laois both send forward a team from their intermediate championship but in both instances it is their third tier competition.
Wicklow, Westmeath, Meath and Kildare send forward their intermediate (second tier) champions while Wexford and Carlow send forward the winners, where possible, of their daftly named intermediate ‘A’ and ‘B’ championships respectively.
Clonguish claimed the Longford title for the first time in six years this year when they beat Longford Slashers in the final and they then beat Bandarrig of Wicklow in the opening round in Leinster two weeks ago.
Longford player Joe O’Brien is obviously their star man with tallies of 4-5 against Bandarrig and 0-12 in the Longford final. They also can call on former Longford footballer Paul Barden who scored the crucial goal in the Longford final after coming on as a half-time sub.
Despite being without the suspended Bernard Rochford – whose red card in the Laois semi-final loss to Borris-Kilcotton rules him out here – Mountmellick are hot favourites to win it.
It is a step into the unknown for them but they could get some value out of this competition yet and if they win today then a semi-final against Fingallians of Dublin or Conahy Shamrocks from Kilkenny will await in two weeks time.