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It’s a big day of action in the Laois club football championships again today with a double header in O’Moore Park and a number of junior games down for decision around the county.
The first men’s adult silverware of the year is up for grabs when Crettyard and Clonaslee do battle for intermediate football honours while The Heath and Ballyfin clash for a place in the Laois SFC semi-finals.
There is also two Laois JFC quarter-finals and the semi-finals in the JFC ‘B’ and JFC ‘C’.
Laois Shopping Centre SFC Quarter Final – Ballyfin v The Heath
In MW Hire O’Moore Park at 3pm
The first of the Laois senior football championship quarter finals takes place today and pits The Heath against Ballyfin.
The last championship meeting between these two came in very different circumstances in 2018 – a relegation semi final.
Evin Keane was The Heath’s hero that day as he scored 2-10 in a 2-13 to 2-10 win – but injury will keep him out of this match.
Ballyfin saved themselves from relegation after that game and haven’t looked back since – reaching the semi final last year for the first time ever in 2019.
After wins over Rosenallis and Ballyroan-Abbey, they are one step away from that again. From last year, they have added in experienced former Offaly footballer Aidan Keenaghan and youngster Will Reilly.
As for The Heath, this is the first time in three years that they haven’t been battling relegation.
They avoided that when they defeated Arles-Kilcruise in Round 1 and although they lost to Graiguecullen in Round 2 – they bounced back well to down Killeen in Round 3.
They’ve been very impressive with lots of pace in their team through Neil Keane, Dylan Kavanagh, Alan Whelan and Robbie Dowling – while James Phelan, Conor Booth and Chris Bergin have scored freely.
The four Connollys, Darragh, David, Allan and Max have been excellent for Ballyfin along with James Finn, James Moore and top scorer Sean Moore.
This could be a classic – but Ballyfin may prevail.
Laois Shopping Centre IFC Final – Clonaslee v Crettyard
In MW Hire O’Moore Park at 5pm
The side who were relegated from the senior championship in 2019 will meet the team that lost this final last year, tonight.
Crettyard and Clonaslee were earmarked by most as the two best teams prior to the commencement of this competition – and that is how it has panned out.
Clonaslee played with 14 men for 41 minutes and were reduced to 13 men with ten minutes to play.
Darren Hogan went early on with Diarmuid Conroy shown his marching orders later in the second half before Glen McEvoy was shown red with the game in injury time.
Despite all of that, Clonaslee were only beaten by two points as they battled and scrapped for their lives.
After needing extra time to beat Mountmellick in Round 1, Clonaslee also got a bit of a scare against The Rock in Round 2.
But when they met the latter for a second time in the semi final – a James McRedmond hat-trick helped them to a massive win.
After flirting with relegation for a few years, Crettyard faced off against The Heath in the senior relegation final last year and lost.
But they have adjusted to life in the second tier well and have won all three of their games with relative ease.
Timahoe were their first victims and they followed that win with another big one against Portlaoise in Round 2.
And they continued their emphatic ways by thrashing Mountmellick in their semi final.
Evan O’Carroll has scored 5-26 in the three games while Cormac Murphy, Ciaran Burke, Patrick Brennan and Sean O’Shea have also shone.
Clonaslee have experience in the form of Niall Corbet, John Rigney and Will Young but they are predominantly a very young team.
Sean Condon, Barry Kelly, Liam Senior, Oisin Murray, Jack Owens, DJ Callaghan, Cian Barrett, Daire Hogan, Bob Downey, Ryan Kilroe and Ciaran Fitzgerald are all under the age of 21 and the majority of them should feature on Saturday.
It could well turn into a shoot-out between Evan O’Carroll and Niall Corbet with Crettyard just having that bit extra.
Laois Shopping Centre JFC ‘B’Semi Finals
The two junior ‘B’ semi finals are down for decision this evening in Annanough at Timahoe.
Favourites Graiguecullen face Stradbally in Annanough at 7pm. Both of these teams started life in 2019 as junior ‘A’ teams but withdrew from that competition.
Graiguecullen won the junior ‘C’ last year and looked primed to claim another title.
The second semi final sees Spink take on Rosenallis in Timahoe at 4.30pm. Spink topped their group to get here but Rosenallis’ route has been dramatic.
After finishing second in their group, they had to come through two playoff matches this week – against Slieve Bloom (Monday) and Emo (Wednesday).
And if they can win their third match this week – they will reach the final. But Spink were junior ‘A’ not too long ago and will be favourites.
Laois Shopping Centre JFC ‘C’ Semi Finals
The two junior ‘C’ semi finals are also down for decision – one in Trumera and the other in Mountmellick but both at 4.30pm.
Borris-in-Ossory are set to face 2019 defeated finalists Colt in Trumera while Kilcotton take on O’Dempsey’s third string in Mountmellick.
With the Borris-in-Ossory and Kilcotton lads having one eye on next weekend’s senior hurling final – wins for Colt and O’Dempsey’s would be expected.