Leinster Club SHC – Rathdowney-Errill v St Ryanagh’s
In O’Moore Park at 2.30pm
Rathdowney-Errill will be looking to end Laois’s poor run in the Leinster club hurling championship this afternoon when they take on Offaly champions St Ryanagh’s in O’Moore Park.
The Laois clubs have had a poor record in this competition over the past decade and a half, since the great Castletown team occasionally went toe-to-toe with Birr.
It will be Rathdowney-Errill’s sixth foray into the provincial championship and their first since 2014 when they brought Kilmacud Crokes to extra time in Parnell Park.
Camross, Clough-Ballacolla and Borris-Kilcotton have all been beaten in recent years and Rathdowney-Errill have gone down to the likes of Kilcormac-Killoughey, Ballyhale Shamrocks and O’Loughlin Gaels.
St Rynagh’s are Offaly champions for the second time in four years and staged a brilliant second-half comeback to beat Birr two weeks ago.
Stephen Quirke and Diarmuid Horan both made big contributions off the bench while county footballer Joe O’Connor got the winning point in injury time.
Rathdowney-Errill came unbeaten through Laois and though they needed an injury time goal to beat Camross in the semi-final, they were relatively comfortable in the final against Borris-Kilcotton.
They have a fine spine to their team – from captain Brian Campion at full-back, All Star nominee Jack Kelly at centre-back, Paddy Purcell and John Keane in midfield, Mark Kavanagh at centre-forward and Ross King at full-forward.
They’ve no apparent weak spots and should have a chance this afternoon – indeed having started off as 2/1 outsiders early in the week, they have moved into 5/6 favourites.
If Kavanagh nails his frees and the likes of King or Purcell can nab a couple of goals, they won’t be far off.
Winter hurling will be tough, dogged and probably lower scoring.
But Rathdowney-Errill can extend their season another couple of weeks and a likely semi-final against Dublin champions Cuala in two weeks time.