About a month later than usual, the top tiers of the Laois hurling championships will get underway.
Over the last number of weeks, the Junior ‘B’ and ‘C’ have been ticking away and are down to the closing stages.
But tonight sees the first of the SHC and IHC Round 1 games.
Camross face Rathdowney-Errill in the senior game while neighbours Trumera and Mountrath clash in the other.
Below, we will take a look at how the two games are likely to pan out:
Senior Hurling Championship Group B Round 1
Camross v Rathdowney-Errill in O’Moore Park at 7.30pm
Two of the top teams in the county are set to go head to head in O’Moore Park tonight to get the Laois SHC underway.
Meetings between these rivals have always been entertaining and both will be keen to lay down an early marker.
Camross had the better of exchanges in 2017 and 2018 winning in league encounters plus the championship final in the latter year.
But Rathdowney-Errill defeated them in dramatic fashion on their way to glory in 2019 thanks to a last gasp Ross King goal.
While their most recent significant meeting came in the semi final of the league last month where Rathdowney-Errill were once again the winners.
Neither team will be at full strength this evening. Mark Kavanagh (knee), Eric Killeen (shoulder) and Joe Fitzpatrick (arm) are on the comeback trail for Rathdowney-Errill but this game is likely to come too soon.
Youngster Tomas Keyes is out for Camross while talisman Zane Keenan is struggling with an injury picked up in a recent challenge game.
A tight game is anticipated, but Rathdowney-Errill may just have enough.
Odds: Rathdowney-Errill 8/15, Camross 13/8 Draw 9/1
Intermediate Hurling Championship Group B Round 1
Trumera v Mountrath – in Trumera at 7pm
The meeting of the defeated 2020 finalists and the side who was relegated form the Premier IHC gets this competition underway.
The last time these two met was back in 2018 in the relegation playoff from the old Senior A competition.
Mountrath defeated their neighbours on that occasions but joined them in this grade following relegation last year.
Intermediate is more cut throat than the two tiers above it as only two teams advance from the groups.
Therefore, whoever loses this clash will certainly be on the back foot.
Trumera have been rebuilding their team in recent years with the likes of Paddy Hosey, Bryan Bredin, Finian Cuddy, Gearoid O’Neill and Dylan Lalor giving them a boost.
Mountrath have been in decline in recent years but reaching the Division 1B semi finals was certainly a step in the right direction.
This will be close but perhaps Mountrath may just have that bit extra.