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Win or bust for Laois senior hurlers as season defining clash with Antrim awaits

It is a busy day on the GAA front with the Laois minors away to Louth and the senior hurlers facing Antrim.

Below, we look ahead to the latter.

When, where, what time?

The game throws in at 2.30pm in Parnell Park in Dublin.

Team news

Laois manager Seamas ‘Cheddar’ Plunkett named his starting 15 and subs last night.

Laois: Enda Rowland; Lee Cleere, Sean Downey, Donnchadh Hartnett; Stephen Maher, Ciaran McEvoy, Ryan Mullaney; Fiachra C-Fennell, Jack Kelly; Paddy Purcell, Cha Dwyer, Ciaran Collier; PJ Scully, Willie Dunphy, Ross King

Subs: Paul Simms, Matthew Whelan, Frank Flanagan, Podge Delaney, James Keyes, James Ryan, Aaron Dunphy, John Lennon, Ciaran Comerford, Eanna Lyons, Eoin Gaughan

This is the same team that was named to start against Wexford but didn’t as James Ryan was a late change for Lee Cleere.

Antrim have yet to name their team.

What’s Laois’s recent history like against Antrim?

Laois played Antrim in the last round of the league – a game that was a dead rubber as Laois were already in the relegation playoff and Antrim were safe prior to throw in.

Before that, you have to go back to 2019 when Laois beat them by 2-24 to 1-19 in the Joe McDonagh Cup.

In 2018, Laois managed to ground out a one point win over Antrim in the Joe McDonagh Cup and also Laois saw them off to maintain their Division 1B status for 2019.

What have Antrim been like this year?

Antrim go into the game as favourites as they have enjoyed a far better 2021 than Laois.

In the league, they defeated Clare, drew with Wexford and then also got the better of Laois.

But they were dealt a reality check two weeks ago when they were well beaten by Dublin in their Leinster quarter final.

Conal Cunning has been their main man this year while Sean Elliott and Paddy Burke have also impressed. Neil McManus was held for the league game against Laois but you can expect him to feature heavily today.

What happens after this game?

One way or another – Laois will still have at least one more game to play before their 2021 campaign is over.

They will have to play Westmeath in the Division 1 league relegation playoff – but the exact date is dependent on what happens here and in the Joe McDonagh Cup clash between the Lake County and Kildare.

If Laois win, they will progress to Round 1 of the All-Ireland hurling Qualifiers against either Waterford or Cork/Clare.

But if Laois lose, they are relegated back to the Joe McDonagh Cup for next year.

Who’s the referee?

The man in the middle for this game is Sean Cleere from Kilkenny. Our records cannot find a which he officiated involving Laois before.

What are the odds?

Antrim are 4/9 favourites with Laois at 9/4 and the draw priced at 10/1. The handicap is three points.

Where can I follow the action?

We will be providing minute-by-minute updates on our Live Blog and there will also be coverage on Midlands 103. While the game is on GAA Go.

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.