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Home advantage for Laois minor hurlers as they go in search of first Leinster crown since 1964

Laois minor hurlers
The Laois minor hurlers celebrate with Buff Egan after their win over Kilkenny on Saturday

The Laois minor hurlers will have home advantage for their Leinster final clash with Offaly.

The coin toss went Laois’s way this afternoon and they will take on the Faithful on Monday May 16 at 7.30pm in O’Moore Park.

The game was initially pencilled in for Saturday but the counties agreed to the switch and the match will now be shown live on TG4.

A win for Laois would send them into an All Ireland semi-final though a loss wouldn’t mean their season is finished.

Instead they’d go into a quarter-final round robin group alongside Galway and the beaten Munster finalists (Clare or Tipperary) with two to advance to the semi-finals.

Saturday’s win over Kilkenny was their fifth Saturday in a row to be in championship action – and there’s plenty more to come yet.

Declan Qualter’s side have beaten Kildare, Westmeath, Wexford and Kilkenny so far with their only blip coming against Offaly in the group stages when Offaly were 1-20 to 1-17 winners.

Qualter, a Galway native who played with Dublin before moving to Laois, is in his second season in charge of Laois and having been knocked out by Kildare in the opening round last year, many of the same players have come back to feature in this campaign.

Former Waterford manager Derek McGrath is involved in the coaching team and has been very visible on matchdays while Tom Brennan, Damien Carter and Tadhg Doran are all key members of the backroom team too.

That loss to Offaly sent Laois into a preliminary quarter-final against Westmeath where they’d to come back from an early eight-point deficit to win 2-15 to 0-17.

They then recorded a dramatic win over Wexford in the quarter-final before holding off Kilkenny, 1-15 to 0-15, in the semi-final for a first win over the Cats since 1964.

You have to go back to 1964 for Laois’s last Leinster final success at this age grade though they’ve since lost finals in 1966, 1978, 1990, 1991 and 2013.

Offaly topped Laois’s group and have since beaten Antrim and Dublin to reach their second final in three years. They were beaten by Kilkenny in 2020 but you have to go back to 2000 for their last provincial success at this level.

Offaly are managed by former Limerick player Leo O’Connor who has former Offaly legend Johnny Pilkington among his backroom team, as well as former Portlaoise player Martin Cashen, who served as a Garda in Laois for many years.

Backboned by six players from a very strong Kilcormac-Killoughey underage setup, Offaly include four dual stars in their team. Donal Shirley, Cillian Martin, Shane Rigney and Niall Furlong were all part of the minor football team that easily beat Laois last Wednesday and have a semi-final against Dublin to look forward to this week.

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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.