Leinster SHC – Laois v Wexford
In O’Moore Park at 2.30pm
And the Laois hurlers go again.
For the third week running, Cheddar Plunkett’s men will be in championship action, this time against Wexford, who they welcome to O’Moore Park this afternoon.
Laois’s involvement in the Leinster round robin format for the first time is a challenging environment and after pushing Dublin to two points in the opening round, they were heavily defeated by Kilkenny in Nowlan Park eight days ago.
Laois’s very outside chance of finishing in the top three in the group require them to win today – and against Galway in two weeks time.
They also play Westmeath in their final game, a fixture that is likely to decide who stays at the Liam MacCarthy level for 2023.
What’s the team news?
Laois have made two changes to the side that started against Kilkenny last week. Ciaran Byrne from Abbeyleix comes in for his first championship start on the half forward line while Ben Conroy returns from the knee injury he picked up back in February. He is named at corner-forward.
Losing out are Clough-Ballacolla duo Jordan Walshe and Aidan Corby.
The Laois team in full is: Enda Rowland; Donnacha Hartnett, Ciaran McEvoy, Sean Downey; Jack Kelly, Liam O’Connell, Ryan Mullaney; Paddy Purcell, Fiachra C-Fennell; Ciaran Byrne, Cha Dwyer, James Keyes; Mark Dowling, PJ Scully, Ben Conroy
Wexford, meanwhile, have made four changes to the side that lost by a point to Dublin last week.
Lee Chin, Conor Devitt, Conor Hearne and Jack O’Connor all come into the team with Conal Flood, Oisin Foley, Kevin Foley and Mikie Dwyer dropping out.
The Wexford team is: Mark Fanning; Simon Donohue, Liam Ryan, Conor Devitt; Paudie Foley, Damien Reck, Matthew O’Hanlon; Lee Chin, Diarmuid O’Keeffe; Liam Og McGovern, Jack O’Connor, Charlie McGuckin; Rory O’Connor, Conor McDonald, Conor Hearne
How are Wexford going?
They’re under a bit of pressure. Having won their five games in the group section of the league under new manager Darragh Egan, Wexford were then hammered by Waterford in the semi-final and have since only managed one point from their first two championship games, that a last minute equaliser against Galway in their opening round.
They were beaten by a point by Dublin last week and so need two wins (and to boost their scoring difference) in their next two games against Laois and Westmeath before finishing up with a trip to Kilkenny for a must-win game.
What’s Laois’s record like against Wexford?
Not good. Laois were badly beaten in the two fixtures last year (4-17 to 0-10 in the league and 5-31 to 1-23 in the championship) and have lost the last 10 championship meetings between the counties.
You have to go back to 1985 for Laois’s last win in the fixture – the memorable Leinster semi-final of that year. From 21 meetings, that is Laois’s only win in the past 80 years.
In all the counties have met 29 times in the championship, with Laois winning six times and Wexford the remaining 23.
Who should we watch out for for Wexford?
The usual suspects. Lee Chin in midfield, Conor McDonald at full-forward. Liam Og McGovern on the half forward line, Diarmuid O’Keeffe at midfield, Matthew O’Hanlon in defence and goalkeeper Mark Fanning are all experienced and quality players.
Of the lesser-known names, wing-forward Charlie McGuckin is a son of former Offaly hurler Shane, an All Ireland winner in 1994.
What’s the betting?
Laois are massive 9/1 outsiders with Wexford at 1/16 and the draw at 20/1.
On the handicap betting Laois are +10.
What’s the story with tickets?
Tickets can only be pre-purchased online or in participating Centra or SuperValu stores.
Stand tickets are €20 (€15 for OAPs and €5 for juveniles) while it’s €10 to stand on the terrace.
Where can I follow the action?
It’s not live on TV or being streamed anywhere but the radio updates and the LaoisToday Live Blog will keep you up to speed.
Any other business?
A Laois win would be a massive shock but the last three championship games involving Laois-Wexford teams in O’Moore Park have all been very competitive.
The Laois minor hurlers knocked Wexford out of the championship yesterday, the U-20s were only beaten by a point two weeks ago and the Leinster club game last November between the respective county champions Clough-Ballacolla and Raparees was won by the Laois side.
Incidentally, though, Wexford full-back Liam Ryan is the only player from that game from either side named to start today.