The draws for the 2021 Laois club hurling championships were made last night.
While the 2020 Senior hurling and Premier Intermediate championships are still outstanding, we can still look ahead to action that will get underway in the next month or so.
We’ve picked out five ties that have caught our eye from the various championships.
With the nature of all of the hurling championships being played in group stages bar Junior C, it is harder to pick out games.
In the absence of a fixture list, it is not known at what stage in the groups these matches will occur.
So while they may look exciting on paper now – they could of course prove to be dead rubbers when the ties actually come around.
But as they stand now, these fixtures are certainly interesting.
Check them out below:
Laois SHC Group A
Castletown v Winners Portlaoise/The Harps
Group A of the Senior hurling championship contains the 2019 (Rosenallis) and 2020 (The Harps or Portlaoise) Premier Intermediate champions – plus Castletown who were in the relegation playoff last year.
Rosenallis bucked the trend last year by becoming the first newly promoted team to reach a semi final – but that has been the exception rather than the norm.
For Castletown and the 2020 Premier Intermediate winners, survival will be the name of the game and whoever wins this game will surely reach a quarter final and avoid the dreaded playoff.
Laois SHC Group B
Camross v Rathdowney-Errill
While Group A has an open look to it, Group B is daunting with three previous championship winners, Borris-Kilcotton, Rathdowney-Errill and Camross in it along with Abbeyleix.
Camross and Rathdowney-Errill did not meet last season but they did in 2019 and 2018.
Camross got the better of them in the 2018 final but a last gasp Ross King goal settled it Rathdowney-Errill’s way in 2019. There is never much between these two and it is likely to be the case again here.
Laois Premier IHC Group A
Slieve Bloom v Ballyfin
These two were drawn in the same group last year and with only two teams advancing to the knock-out phase – the game between them proved crucial in the end.
Slieve Bloom were in the relegation final in 2019 but they were much improved in 2020 and defeated their neighbours on the way to the semi final of this competition.
One point was all that separated them and Ballyfin will be hoping that the fit again Eanna Lyons can tip the balance their direction.
Laois IHC Group A
Clonad v Park-Ratheniska-Timahoe
We love a neighbourly battle and as the Intermediate groups have more bite too them with just two teams qualifying for the knock-out phase – this game will carry significance.
On paper, Clough-Ballacolla and Borris-Kilcotton will be favourites to get out of the group – meaning whoever wins this game will most likely avoid the relegation playoff.
The last time the teams met was in 2017 when Park-Ratheniska were not amalgamated with Timahoe. It was a cracking game with Clonad winning by five in the end – but expect this one to be even closer.
Laois IHC Group B
Trumera v Mountmellick
Group B looks wide open as, aside from the two mentioned above, it contains recently promoted The Harps and recently relegated Mountrath.
Trumera reached the 2020 final, which was only played a few weeks ago, and were heavily beaten by Rathdowney-Errill.
They and Mountmellick engaged in an almighty tussle in 2019 where a replay was required to split the teams.
Another tight battle is anticipated and the result will have a big impact on the eventual outcome of the group.