Such are the tight margins that the Laois ladies footballers could be out of the championship this afternoon – or have a very realistic chance of reaching the All Ireland intermediate final in Croke Park on the first Sunday in September.
Fresh from their latest thrilling win over Kildare last Sunday, Laois make the trip to Kinnegad to take on Roscommon.
A win or a draw will send Laois through as group winners and into a quarter-final against Offaly or Louth.
A loss by two points or less and Laois would still go through but in second place behind Kildare, whose scoring difference going into today is the same as Laois at +2.
Where it gets really complicated is if Laois lose by three points. If that happens then both Laois and Roscommon would be tied on two points and on -1 scoring difference. It would then come down to the next deciding criteria – who has scored the most points. A 0-15 to 0-12 loss would be enough then for Laois, but 0-15 to 1-9 in Roscommon’s favour would knock Laois out.
It’s all a bit head-melting – but the straight forward way out is for Laois to win and do away with permutations.
The sides met in June in the Division 3 league semi-final when a typically crazy Laois match saw Donie Brennan’s side come from 5-8 to 3-7 down at the second water break only to outscore Roscommon by 1-8 to 0-1 in the final quarter to run out three-point winners.
Roscommon then lost 1-11 to 1-7 to Kildare in the opening round of the championship and had a bye last weekend as Laois and Kildare and battle.
Under the management of former Mayo player and All Ireland winner Diane O’Hora (one of the few female managers in the ladies game), they know that a loss here will mean that their interest in the championship is over, albeit with a relegation battle to come.
Among their key players are midfielder Laura Fleming, who scored 2-2 against Laois the last day out and a goal against Kildare and free-taker Rebecca Finan, widely regarded as their top forwards.
The Laois team named shows one change from the side that beat Kildare with Alannah Havill from St Conleth’s coming into the side in place of Andrea Moran from Ballyroan. Havill impressed after coming on a sub in the final quarter against Kildare.
Corner-back Clodagh Dunne missed last week’s win over Kildare but is named on the bench this time.
Dunne’s absence meant the team had to be reshaped somewhat for the Kildare game with Rachel Williams going to corner-back from wing-back and Anna Healy moving from wing-forward to the half-back line.
A leg injury to Eva Galvin continues to rule her out and she is a big loss though the availability of Joyce Dunne is an obvious boost and she retains her place on the half-forward line after her first start of the season last weekend.
Orla Hennessy, a late addition to the starting team last week, retains her place in the full-forward line alongside Sarah Anne Fitzgerald and Mo Nerney. Leah Tarpey, last week’s other sub, is again held in reserve.
The game throws in at 2pm in is live on the Sport TG4 Youtube channel.
Should Laois advance from the group then they will have a two-week break until the All Ireland quarter-finals on August 7-8. The semi-finals are fixed for August 14-15 with the final on September 5.
The Laois team in full is: Eimear Barry (Shanaho); Anna Healy (Park-Ratheniska), Amy Potts (St Brigid’s), Aimee Kelly (St Conleth’s); Rachel Williams (Sarsfields), Ellen Healy (Portlaoise), Laura Nerney (Portlaoise); Fiona Dooley (Portlaoise), Jane Moore (St Brigid’s); Alannah Havill (St Conleth’s), Erone Fitzpatrick (Park-Ratheniska), Joyce Dunne (Sarsfields); Mo Nerney (Timahoe), Sarah Anne Fitzgerald (Portlaoise), Orla Hennessy (Timahoe)