Storm Jorge has come and (almost) gone, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake across the country.
The sporting fixtures have unsurprisingly been hit with both of Laois’s National League fixtures affected.
The Laois hurlers make the short trip to Nowlan Park this afternoon to take on Kilkenny in a game that was due to be in Portlaoise.
The reason it was switched was because it was reckoned the MW Hire O’Moore Park pitch wouldn’t have been able for two games in this weather in less than 24 hours – the footballers Division 2 clash against Kildare was due to be last night but was postponed because of the high winds.
It means that both the Laois senior hurlers and footballers are in action this afternoon – the footballers at 1pm in Portlaoise against Kildare; the hurlers at 2pm in Kilkenny against Brian Cody’s Kilkenny.
Allianz Hurling League Division 1B – Laois v Kilkenny
In UPMC Nowlan Park at 2pm
This game is essentially a dead rubber – Laois can’t go through to the quarter-finals even if they win and they’re safe from relegation no matter what happens.
Kilkenny need just a draw to ensure their place in the knockout stages.
It’s the first time for the counties to meet in the league since 2006 – when Kilkenny recorded a 1-26 to 1-13 win in Nowlan Park – while Laois are seeking to end a seven-game losing streak in the competition against Kilkenny and record a first win in the fixture since April 1998.
The game sees Eddie Brennan come up against his home county and Brian Cody for the first time since he took on the Laois job – and it’ll be a fore-runner to the more serious business of the Leinster championship when the sides meet in Kilkenny on May 17.
Laois have made three changes to the side that beat Carlow to ensure their Division 1 status last week with Ronan Broderick from Clough-Ballacolla coming in for his first league start at wing-back instead of Jack Kelly and Colm Stapleton and James Keyes forming a new-look midfield pairing with the Rosenallis duo of John Lennon and Fiachra C Fennell making way.
Kilkenny have made six changes to their team from the one that drew with Clare last Sunday with Ballyhale Shamrocks youngster Eoin Cody coming in for his debut at centre-forward to essentially replace his club-mate Adrian Mullen who has been ruled out for the year with a cruciate injury.
There is no TJ Reid, Colin Fennelly or Richie Hogan for Kilkenny as they start just three of the team that played against Tipperary in last year’s All Ireland final. But there are plenty of big names with Walter Walsh, Padraig Walsh, Huw Lawlor and Ger Aylward all starting.
Kilkenny are the hottest of 1/50 favourites with Laois at 12/1 and the draw at 33/1.
LAOIS: Enda Rowland; Liam Senior, Matthew Whelan, Donnacha Hartnett; Ronan Broderick, Podge Delaney, Ciaran McEvoy; James Keyes, Colm Stapleton; Aaron Dunphy, James Ryan, Paddy Purcell; Willie Dunphy, Ross King, Eoin Gaughan
KILKENNY: Darren Brennan; Tommy Walsh, Huw Lawlor, Ciaran Wallace; Conor Delaney, Padraig Walsh, Darren Mullen; Richie Leahy, James Maher; Martin Keoghan, Eoin Cody, Alan Murphy; Billy Ryan, Walter Walsh, Ger Aylward
Allianz Football League Division 2 – Laois v Kildare
In MW Hire O’Moore Park at 1pm
Just like the hurling game, there’s also a nice managerial angle to this one with Kerry men in charge of both sides.
Laois boss Mike Quirke was on the Kerry panel under Jack O’Connor who is now over Kildare and also played under him at club level with Kerins O’Rahilly’s in Tralee.
Quirke has made a better start to his reign as Laois boss as his side sit on five points, just one off leaders Cavan and three ahead of Kildare who are tied on two at the bottom of the table with Clare and Fermanagh.
It’s a must-win game for Kildare in that context but they do come in as 4/6 favourites.
They have lost their last three games – to Roscommon, Armagh and Clare – and haven’t even scored a goal since their opening round win over Fermanagh.
With the exception of the home loss to Cavan two weeks ago, Laois have enjoyed a good start with wins over Clare and Armagh and a draw away to last year’s Connacht champions Roscommon.
Kildare have had the upper hand on Laois in recent years, comfortably winning their championship meetings in 2017, 2015, 2011 and 2009 and Laois have won only one of the last ten meetings between the counties, that a league game in 2010.
Sean O’Flynn’s return to the half-back line is the only named change to the team that beat Clare last weekend while Kildare have made three changes to their side that lost to Roscommon last Sunday.
Having been due to be played last night, the game now goes ahead at 1pm in MW Hire O’Moore Park.
LAOIS: Niall Corbet; Trevor Collins, Mark Timmons, Gearoid Hanrahan; Sean O’Flynn, Robbie Pigott, Paddy O’Sullivan; John O’Loughlin, Kieran Lillis; Sean Byrne, Eoin Lowry, Damien O’Connor; Ross Munnelly, Colm Murphy, Evan O’Carroll.
KILDARE: Mark Donnellan; Shea Ryan Mick O’Grady, Eoin Doyle; David Hyland, Con Kavanagh, Kevin Flynn; Kevin Feeley, Tommy Moolick; Liam Power, Paul Cribbin, Paddy Brophy; Adam Tyrrell, Daniel Flynn, Niall Kelly.