The Laois U-20 hurlers face Carlow in Round 1 of the Leinster championship this evening – but their manager is still not sure what team will actually take to the field.
Manager Enda Lyons named his team last night, but he says some of his players or their contacts are awaiting the result of a Covid-19 test that will determine or not whether they can play this evening at 7pm in MW Hire O’Moore Park or not.
The 30-man squad, captained by Castletown’s Joe Phelan, are already down a number of players through injury and Lyons is hoping that Covid-19 does not scupper his plans further.
While he believes his team are in a privileged position to be able to play GAA at a time when so much of society is shutdown – he believes it to be a precarious one.
The Ballyfin clubman and Galway native said: “We can’t even name our team for the match at the last training session simply because we are waiting for results back on Covid testing.
“So hopefully we won’t lose more of the boys because of that.
“We are down Allan Connolly, Fionn Holland and Ciaran Burke through injury so we are waiting on the results of these tests now to see if we will lose any more.
“I think we are in a very privileged position, but also a very precarious one. These boys are deemed elite and they are in the way they train, treat the game and their attitudes to the GAA.
“But the reality of it is that they are not because when they leave training they go home to their household they are not in a bubble. They have to go to work, they have to go to school or they have to go to college.
“And that is why we have players awaiting the results of Covid tests. So I would sum it all up that we are privileged to be able to play – but in a precarious position at the same time.”
Speaking further about preparations, Lyons revealed how his side have been unable to play any challenge matches as a late resumption and new GAA restrictions collided to create the perfect storm.
He said: “We had an extended panel of 50 players but informed them that we would look at the club championship and form a panel of 30 from there.
“We actually came back on September 30, as late as that, and the reality is we’ve only had six sessions.
“We had planned to play Westmeath and then Offaly but with the tightening of restrictions, we lost those games so we have had no match and just six session.
“Now I don’t mind that because I believe it is the same for everyone. If we get our game played, we just hope the boys will do themselves justice.”
Three of Lyons’ players are also part of Eddie Brennan’s senior hurling panel – Abbeyleix’s Ciaran Byrne, Clough-Ballacolla’s Mark Hennessy and Ballyfin’s Allan Connolly.
Lyons has a good relationship with Brennan and says a number of other players have also got the chance to test themselves at the higher level.
He said: “I would talk to Eddie regularly and I know my job is to prepare these U-20s to ultimately join Eddie’s panel.
“He officially has Ciaran Byrne, Mark Hennessy and Allan Connolly but he has also requested more when he needs them.
“So plenty of our lads have got experience of training at that level and you can see the difference in them when they return back to us again.
“I think that is a great thing because it gives them the appetite.”
Looking ahead to tonight’s match, Lyons is hoping to put an end to Laois’s poor record at this level.
He said: “Our record at this level has been poor whether it be U-21 or U-20 – I don’t think we have won a game in eight years.
“Carlow have beaten us the last two times that they played us at this level and I know this Carlow side will be a very big and powerful team.
“But it isn’t really until the game unfolds that we will find out who is playing well for either side.
“We’ll need everyone available and I’m certain whatever 15 we start with won’t be what we finish with.”
Laois face Carlow at 7pm in MW Hire O’Moore Park. No fans will be permitted but we will have all the action as it happens on our Live Blog.
The Laois team named is as follows: Cathal Dunne (Clough-Ballacolla); Danny Brennan (Park-Ratheniska-Timahoe), Conor Cosgrove (Rosenallis), John Maher (Rosenallis); Fionan Mahoney (Abbeyleix), Enda Parlon (Borris-Kilcotton), Padraic Dunne (The Harps); Thep Fitzpatrick (Rathdowney-Errill), Joe Phelan (Castletown); Fionn Whelan (The Harps), Daniel Delaney (Camross), Liam Delaney (Camross); Tomas Keyes (Camross), Ciaran Byrne (Abbeyleix), Mark Hennessy (Clough-Ballacolla)