The Laois senior hurlers continue their Allianz League Division 1 campaign this afternoon when they make the trip to Ennis to take on Clare.
Laois have lost both games to date – to Wexford and Dublin – with games to come against Carlow and Kilkenny over the next two weekends.
The bottom team in the two Division 1 groups will meet in a relegation playoff on the weekend of March 7/8 with Westmeath almost certain to be the bottom team in the other group. Laois’s best chance of avoiding that playoff would be to pick up points in one of their three remaining group games, with next week’s game against Carlow in Portlaoise particularly important.
When, where, what time?
Today, Sunday, February 16, in Cusack Park in Ennis at 2pm.
What’s the Laois team?
Eddie Brennan and his selectors have made a couple of changes for today’s game with Frank Flanagan, Colm Stapleton and James Keyes coming in for Liam Senior, Jack Kelly and Aaron Dunphy. It’s a first league start for Flanagan and Keyes while Diarmuid Conway, who made his debut against Dublin the last day, keeps his place.
The Laois starting team is: Enda Rowland (Abbeyleix); Diarmuid Conway (Clough-Ballacolla), Frank Flanagan (Portlaoise), Donnacha Hartnett (Mountmellick); Podge Delaney (The Harps), Ryan Mullaney (Castletown), Ciaran McEvoy (Portlaoise); Colm Stapleton (Borris-Kilcotton), Fiachra C Fennell (Rosenallis); Willie Dunphy (Clough-Ballacolla), James Ryan (Rathdowney-Errill), Paddy Purcell (Rathdowney-Errill); Ross King (Rathdowney-Errill), Stephen Bergin (Clough-Ballacolla), James Keyes (Colt)
And what’s the Clare team?
Clare have made six changes to the side that beat Wexford 0-18 to 0-15 two weeks ago. Eibhear Quilligan starts in goals instead of the experienced Donal Tuohy while Liam Corry, Shane Golden and Cathal Malone come into the defence. Seadna Morey and Aaron Cunningham are named in attack.
Those to miss out today are Conor Cleary, Eoin Quirke, Pat O’Connor, Ian Galvin and John Conlon.
The Clare team is: Eibhear Quilligan; Liam Corry, Shane Golden, Jack Browne; Stephen O’Halloran, Cathal Malone, Aidan McCarthy; David McInerney, Tony Kelly; David Reidy, David Fitzgerald, Seadna Morey; Ryan Taylor, Shane O’Donnell, Aaron Cunningham
How have Clare been going?
Decent enough. Former legendary full-back Brian Lohan took over the managerial reigns during the winter after a fairly protracted appointment process and they’ve made a decent start to the league and have won both games – against Carlow in the opening round and away to Davy Fitzgerald’s Wexford the last day out.
They had a disappointing Munster championship campaign last summer when they failed to advance from the group stages but were only beaten after a replay by then All Ireland champions Galway in 2019.
Most recent meeting
The last time the counties met was in the league in 2016 when Clare were 1-21 to 0-16 winners over Laois in O’Moore Park. They also met in the 2014 Division 1 league quarter-final in O’Moore Park when Laois ran the then All Ireland champions to four points on a 1-23 to 1-19 scoreline.
Clare beat Laois in the 2013 All Ireland Qualifiers en route to that All Ireland success and in the 2012 league though Laois did record a thrilling 3-16 to 3-13 win in the 2011 league when a late Willie Hyland goal helped Laois to a shock win in O’Moore Park.
What else is on today?
As well as the Laois footballers playing Cavan, there’s a full schedule of hurling action around the country – if it all survives the weather. Galway v Tipperary, Kilkenny v Clare and Limerick v Waterford are among the big games in Division 1. Dublin beat Carlow last night.
What are the odds?
Clare are overwhelming favourites at a price of 1/20. Laois are 9/1 and the draw is 22/1. On the handicap, Clare are -10.
Where can I follow the action?
We will be live blogging the action, along with the Laois football game. RTE and Midlands 103 will have updates and Laois GAA on Twitter will be providing score updates. TG4 are showing the game full game deferred.