The Laois footballers get their 2020 Allianz football League campaign underway this afternoon when they travel to Dr Hyde Park to face Roscommon.
It’ll be Laois’s first competitive game since they were knocked out of the All-Ireland Qualifiers by Cork last July.
This afternoon’s game marks the start of a busy schedule with games against Armagh and Cavan to come in the next two weeks.
When, where, what time?
This afternoon (Sunday, January 25) at 2pm in Dr Hyde Park, Roscommon.
How much is it to get in?
How are Laois going?
After another Championship campaign saw Laois eliminated at the last hurdle before the Super 8 stage in 2019 – much has changed in the O’Moore camp.
Manager John Sugrue has stepped away and he has been replaced by Mike Quirke who oversaw two defeats and one win in the O’Byrne Cup so far.
And it is not just a managerial change either – we have also seen a change in the players too.
Captain for the last three years Stephen Attride has emigrated to Australia while Donie and Paul Kingston have also stepped away.
Paul Cahillane, Conor Boyle and David Seale are not part of the panel while Damien O’Connor, Marty Scully and Gareth Dillon are among those who are out with injury.
Of the players who have come in, Michael Keogh, keeper Niall Corbet and Gearoid Hanrahan have earned a starting place while the likes of Diarmuid Whelan, Garry Comerford and Darragh Connolly will be hoping to see game time at some stage.
Laois beat Wexford in the O’Byrne Cup but lost to Offaly and Meath in the other group games.
What is the Laois team?
Mike Quirke and his management team have named eight of the starting 15 that lost out to Cork last summer.
New captain Kieran Lillis is named at full forward while one of the vice-captains, John O’Loughlin, is in midfield, with the other, Colm Begley, out through injury.
Niall Corbet comes in for Graham Brody – the first Laois league or championship match that the Portlaoise man has not started in in six years.
Gearoid Hanrahan is in for Stephen Attride in defence with Mark Timmons, Gearoid Hanrahan and Sean O’Flynn instead of Denis Booth, Gareth Dillon and Marty Scully.
Sean Byrne partners John O’Loughlin in midfield while Michael Keogh and Mark Barry replace the Kingston brothers in attack.
LAOIS: Niall Corbet (Clonaslee); Trevor Collins (Graiguecullen), Mark Timmons (Graiguecullen), Gearoid Hanrahan (Mountmellick); Sean O’Flynn (Courtwood), Robert Pigott (Portarlington), Patrick O’Sullivan (Portarlington); John O’Loughlin (Rosenallis), Sean Byrne (Portarlington); Michael Keogh (St Joseph’s), Colm Murphy (Portarlington), Eoin Lowry (Killeshin); Mark Barry (O’Dempsey’s), Kieran Lillis (Portlaoise), Evan O’Carroll (Crettyard)
How does this league work?
The league is the same structure as it has been for the last number of years but the difference this time is that there is a lot more riding on it.
In order to compete for the Sam Maguire in the summer, Laois must remain in Division 2.
If they are relegated to Division 3, the only way that they will remain in the Sam Maguire is if they reach the Leinster final.
However, if Laois are relegated and then do not reach the Leinster final, they will play in the new Tier 2 competition involving Division 3 and 4 teams come championship time.
Who else in Laois’s division?
After travelling to face Roscommon today, Laois will have games against Armagh and Cavan at home in the following two weekends.
They will then travel to Clare before hosting Kildare and then conclude with away trips to Westmeath and Fermanagh.
The action got underway last night as Armagh trashed Cavan by 2-18 to 1-8 last night.
What do we know about Roscommon?
Roscommon are the reigning Connacht champions and also reached the Super 8s in 2019 but failed to get out of their group.
Converted Roscommon star forward Conor Cox will miss the first three outings with a broken bone in his wrist.
Cox was crucial to the cause as the Rossies won the Connacht SFC title last summer, scoring 0-5 in victories over Mayo and Galway.
They are managed by Anthony Cunningham who will know the Laois players very well after his stint as a coach under Mick Lillis in 2016.
They will be favourites for promotion and this is the toughest possible test for Laois.
What’s the Roscommon team like for this afternoon?
We don’t know because they haven’t named it yet!
What are the odds?
Home advantage is reckon to be key here as the Rossies are favoured at 4/11 while Laois are 13/5.
A draw is available at 9/1.
What else is on this weekend?
In Division 2, Armagh have already beaten Cavan. Westmeath will host Clare while Jack O’Connor’s Kildare will take on Fermanagh.
Where can I follow the action?
It’s not on TV but you can expect updates from both Midlands 103 and RTE on radio. As always, LaoisToday will be live blogging the entire game