It was always likely to come down to this and so it has proved.
The Laois and Carlow hurlers meet in Division 1 of the Allianz Hurling League in MW Hire Park this evening with the losers certain to be the relegation playoff in two weeks time.
Though both counties have games to come – Laois against Kilkenny and Carlow against Wexford the loser here will have no chance of catching the remaining teams and even a win in their final game wouldn’t be enough as they’d lose out on the head-to-head rule against tonight’s opponents.
Laois and Carlow have both lost their three games to date. Laois to Wexford, Dublin and Clare. Carlow have been beaten by Clare, Kilkenny and Dublin.
Below we guide you through what you need to know.
When, where, what time?
MW Hire O’Moore Park at 7pm.
How much is it to get in?
What is the Laois team?
Eddie Brennan named his Laois team on Friday night and it shows a handful of changes from the side that lost to Clare in Ennis last Sunday.
John Lennon comes in for his first start of the year after shaking off injury and is named at centre-back in place of Ryan Mullaney who went off injured last week while Aaron Dunphy returns in place of Stephen Bergin who also picked up an injury last week.
Colm Stapleton is named in midfield despite going off early with an injury in the Clare game.
The team in full is: Enda Rowland; Diarmuid Conway, Frank Flanagan, Donnacha Hartnett; Podge Delaney, John Lennon, Ciaran McEvoy; Colm Stapleton, Fiachra C Fennell; Willie Dunphy, James Ryan, Paddy Purcell; Ross King, Aaron Dunphy, James Keyes.
What’s Laois’s record like against Carlow?
Only alright. The sides drew when they met in last year’s league though Carlow gave Laois a right hammering in the Joe McDonagh Cup en route to winning the competition in 2018.
Laois did beat Carlow in the round robin stages of the 2017 Leinster championship but there’s never much between the sides.
How are Carlow going?
Not wonderful. They haven’t been competitive for long spells in any of their games and are down a handful of players through injury with the likes of Marty Kavanagh and Chris Nolan both absent.
Manager Colm Bonnar spoke last week about how they need to improve their scoring rate after averaging just over 10 points per game in their opening three fixtures.
What are the odds?
Laois are the 3/10 favourites with Carlow at 3/1 and the draw at 10/1.
What else is on this weekend?
After a weather-disrupted weekend last week, the games continue this fast today and tomorrow with a full round of games across all divisions in hurling and football.
Dublin and Wexford meet this evening in the same division which will be a key game in deciding who goes through to the quarter-final while the meeting of Clare and Kilkenny tomorrow as well as Cork v Limerick and Waterford v Galway are all interesting clashes.
Where can I follow the action?
It’s not on TV but you can expect updates from both Midlands 103, KCLR FM and RTE on radio. As always, LaoisToday will be live blogging the entire game.