Home Sport GAA What you need to know as the Laois footballers take on Dublin...

What you need to know as the Laois footballers take on Dublin in Leinster semi-final

John O Loughlin in action against Niall Scully the last time the counties met in the 2018 Leinster final

When, where, what time?

Today in Croke Park at 3.30pm. But just in case you’ve been living under a stone for the past number of months, supporters aren’t allowed to attend. Don’t rock up to Jones Road looking to get in!

What are the teams?

Both counties have named their starting teams – though, as always, it’s hard to know whether to believe them or not, particularly how they line out.

Laois have made three changes in personnel with Kieran Lillis, Sean O’Flynn and Paddy O’Sullivan all coming in. Mark Barry, Eoin Lowry and Seamus Lacey all miss out and with the injured Lowry and Lacey not even on the matchday 26.

Lillis was suspended for the win over Longford and is named at full-forward, where he featured briefly in the early stages of the league back in February.

O’Sullivan comes in at centre-back with O’Flynn on the wing. Robbie Pigott reverts to corner-back while Brian Byrne moves to wing-forward where he played most of last week having started in defence.

Gareth Dillon is once again named as a half forward though he played a lot of last week’s game at centre-back.

Dublin have named an unchanged side from the one that beat Westmeath 0-22 to 0-11 last week.

Among the relatively new faces for the Dubs this year are Robert McDaid at wing-back, Tom Lahiff at midfield, Sean Bugler on the half-forward line and Paddy Small at corner-forward.

Stephen Cluxton is once again in goals, Eoin Murchan, who scored that famous goal in the All Ireland final replay against Kerry last year, is at corner-back, they’ve defensive experience in the likes of Johnny Cooper, James McCarthy and Michael Fitzsimons, Brian Fenton in midfield and Con O’Callaghan, Ciaran Kilkenny and Dean Rock are the big names up front.

Among the Dublin subs are expected to be the likes of Paul Mannion, Brian Howard, Eric Lowndes and Niall Scully.

LAOIS: Niall Corbet (Clonaslee); Trevor Collins (Graiguecullen), Mark Timmons (Graiguecullen), Robbie Pigott (Portarlington); Eoin Buggie (Stradbally), Paddy O’Sullivan (Portarlington), Sean O’Flynn (Courtwood); John O’Loughlin (Rosenallis), Danny O’Reilly (Graiguecullen); Gareth Dillon (Portlaoise), Paul Kingston (Arles-Killeen), Brian Byrne (Graiguecullen); Evan O’Carroll (Crettyard), Kieran Lillis (Portlaoise), Gary Walsh (Ballylinan). Subs: Matthew Byron (Courtwood), Mark Barry (O’Dempsey’s), Ross Munnelly (Arles-Kilcruise), Michael Keogh (St Joseph’s), Diarmuid Whelan (Ballyroan-Abbey), Alan Farrell (Ballylinan), Shane Bolger (Killeshin), Brian Daly (St Joseph’s), David Seale (Portlaoise), Denis Booth (The Heath), James Kelly (St Joseph’s)

DUBLIN: Stephen Cluxton (Parnells); Michael Fitzsimons (Cuala), Johnny Cooper (Na Fianna), Eoin Murchan (Na Fianna); James McCarthy (Ballymun Kickhams), John Small (Ballymun Kickhams), Robert McDaid (Ballyboden-St Enda’s); Brian Howard (Raheny), Tom Lahiff (St Jude’s); Niall Scully (Templeogue-Synge Street), Ciaran Kilkenny (Castleknock), Sean Bugler (Oliver Plunketts); Paddy Small (Ballymun Kickhams), Con O’Callaghan (Cuala), Dean Rock (Ballymun Kickhams)

What’s the history between the teams like?

Today will be the 35th championship meeting between Laois and Dublin – with the first way back in 1890.

Laois have won just five of those games – the last in 2003 – with Dublin coming out on top on 27 occasions. There have been two draws.

Dublin’s current winning streak of eight games goes back to 2005 and is the longest unbeaten run they’ve enjoyed against Laois over the years.

The sides last met in the Leinster final in 2018, when Dublin were 1-25 to 0-10 winners.

How have Dublin been going this year?

After winning a record fifth All Ireland final in a row last year, manager Jim Gavin resigned and was replaced by his former team-mate Dessie Farrell, who has enjoyed success with the Dublin U-21s.

Dublin’s form was mixed in the early part of the league and though they recorded wins over Meath and Galway since games got underway again and were far too strong for Westmeath last week, it has been hard to get a handle on how well they’re actually going.

There’s perhaps a perception that they’re not as strong as previous years but that’s all relative too – they’re still the overwhelming favourites to win the All Ireland.

What are the odds?

It’s real David v Goliath stuff today with Dublin priced at 1/100 and Laois at 20/1. The draw is 50/1.

On the handicap Dublin -15 points are 11/10.

For the All Ireland, Dublin are odds on at 4/6 to win the Sam Maguire for the sixth year in a row while Laois are last in the betting at 500/1.

Who’s reffing it?

Ciaran Branagan from Down is the man in the middle, as he was when the sides met in Kilkenny in the quarter-final in 2016.

His most recent Laois game was the National League game in Roscommon earlier this year while he’ll be remembered by Dublin supporters as the linesman that Diarmuid Connolly pushed in 2017 that led to a lengthy suspension.

Most recently, Branagan reffed the Cavan v Monaghan game in the Ulster championship.

How can I watch it?

Laois have been upgraded from GAA Go and this game will be live to watch on TV on the RTE News Now Channel.

You’ll find RTE News Now on Channel 21 if you have Saorview, 200 if you’re Virgin Media, 521 if you’re with Sky or 500 on Eir.

The Munster hurling final between Tipperary and Waterford and the Connacht football final between Galway and Mayo are on RTE while Meath v Kildare is on RTE News Now before Laois v Dublin and Cavan v Down in the Ulster semi-final is on GAA Go.

And can I follow it online or on the radio?

As always the LaoisToday Live Blog will keep you up to date with minute-by-minute updates and observations while the Laois GAA Twitter account will have score updates.

Midlands 103 have full live commentary from Jack Nolan and former Laois star Chris Conway while there will be updates across RTE Radio and Newstalk throughout the afternoon also.

SEE ALSO – From the 1800s to 2020, through wars and pandemics, Laois-Dublin rivaly set for its latest chapter

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Steven Miller is owner and managing editor of LaoisToday.ie. From Laois, Steven studied Journalism in DCU and has 14 years experience in the media, almost 10 of those in an editorial role. Husband of Emily, father of William and Lillian, he's happiest when he's telling stories or kicking a point.