The Laois U-20 footballers will look to reach their second Leinster final in seven months when they take on old foes Kildare in MW Hire O’Moore Park this evening.
Eddie Kinsella’s side defeated Kildare in Newbridge in Round 1 last year – dumping the then defending Leinster and All-Ireland champions out at the first hurdle.
Laois were ultimately denied Leinster glory by Dublin in the end but with 11 of the players who were involved in that final last year still around now – there is hope that the O’Moore’s could go one better this time if they can defeat the Lillywhites.
Courtwood native Kinsella is hoping that Laois supporters get behind his team in the crunch tie tonight.
He said: “The lads had to go to Newbridge and win last year but this year we are at home and I hope to see a huge Laois crowd in MW Hire O’Moore Park this evening to get behind them.
“This is going to be a massive task for us and we know that we are going to go in as underdogs.
“We’ve had a four day turnaround since the Westmeath game but these lads are brilliant representatives for our county and they never complain.
“They showed on Monday night that they never give up and that sort of spirit will be required tonight – both on the pitch and in the stand – if we are to claim a big scalp.”
Laois go into the game as outsiders in the bookies and they were well beaten by Kildare in the league competition last month.
13 points separated the sides in the end as Kildare won the opening round of the John Kerins Cup by 2-17 to 1-7 – with Laois going on to subsequently lose to Dublin and Meath.
Ahead of the game, Laois manager Kinsella named on unchanged starting 15 from the one that defeated Westmeath following that dramatic penalty shoot-out on Monday night.
That means that as yet, there is no place for Portarlington’s Colin Slevin who has returned from suspension or the senior duo of Mark Barry and Sean O’Flynn.
Kildare reached this stage after narrowly edging out Offaly last weekend in difficult conditions.
They are managed by former Arles-Killeen boss Gay Campbell and contains six players that played against Laois last year: DJ Earley (Captain), Darragh Kirwan, Luke Griffin, Shane O’Sullivan, Paddy McDermott and Adam Steed.
And it was McDermott who got the decisive score in a 1-7 to 0-9 win over Offaly in the quarter final.
Matthew Byron (Courtwood), Michael Dowling (Portlaoise), Alex Mohan (Portarlington), Colin Slevin (Portarlington), Jack Lacey (St Joseph’s), Dean Brophy (St Joseph’s); Ronan Coffey (Portarlington), Jack Owens (Emo) and PJ Daly (The Heath) all played for Laois in the Round 1 game last year while Sean O’Flynn (Courtwood) and Mark Barry (O’Dempsey’s) missed it due to senior commitments but can play here.
The other semi-final is between Meath and Dublin and takes place in Parnell Park tomorrow (Saturday). Dublin are the reigning Leinster U-20 champions while they were also corresponding Leinster U-17 champions three years ago.
The Leinster final is scheduled for this day two weeks, Friday, March 6, with the All Ireland semi-finals being played as a double header in Croke Park on St Patrick’s Day, Tuesday, March 17.
You can follow all the action as it happens from this evening’s game on our Live Blog.
The Laois v Kildare Leinster U-20 FC semi-final throws in at MW Hire O’Moore Park at 7.30pm