Leinster SHC – Laois v Galway
In O’Moore Park at 5pm
After a two-week break, the Laois senior hurlers are back in action this evening when they welcome Galway to O’Moore Park in the latest game in the Leinster championship.
Laois have lost all three games to date – to Dublin, Kilkenny and Wexford – so another relegation battle is imminent and next week’s showdown with Westmeath in O’Moore Park is almost certainly going to decide who drops down to the Joe McDonagh Cup for the 2022 season.
This evening’s game presents an unusual situation for Laois wherein even if they do take a scalp and beat Galway – as they so nearly did in 2015 when Cheddar Plunkett was also in charge – they will still have to beat Westmeath next week to avoid relegation.
Indeed Laois could beat Galway, lose to Westmeath and be relegated on the head-to-head rule.
It has been a tough season for Laois – and a particularly tough Leinster campaign. Following on from four losses from five games in the league, they’ve lost their last two games by 27 points to Wexford and 23 to Kilkenny. As suspected, the opening round against Dublin, when they only went down by two points, was their best chance.
But the Leinster championship has been a tough nut to crack for Laois since returning to the competition after the 2019 Joe McDonagh Cup success. Laois have lost their five games since by an average of 17 points per game. The Dublin game a month ago was an outlier; Laois lost to Dublin by 14 under Eddie Brennan last year to Wexford by 20 last year.
But they’re a resilient group and management team and they keep coming back for more, knowing that’s it’s very steep mountain they’re trying to climb.
A win for Galway this evening will almost guarantee their place in the knockout stages though they would need to beat Dublin next week to get into the final.
After drawing with Wexford in their opening game, they’d 25 points to spare over Westmeath and then got a last-gasp winner against Kilkenny.
Laois brought Ben Conroy and Willie Dunphy back for the Wexford game two weeks ago after injury layoffs and they’ll have benefited from that runout and the additional training since.
Fiachra C-Fennell will be available too as despite his harsh sending off with 20 minutes to go against Wexford (after which the floodgates opened completely) it was on a second yellow card and no suspension will apply.
Still, Galway are massive 1/100 favourites with Laois at 20/1 and the draw at 40/1. On the handicap, Galway are -19.
Following their win over Kilkenny they may not be in as big rush to get scores as Wexford were but it’s not a game that either will be getting overly excited.
With Laois at home to Westmeath next week and Galway at home to Dublin, both might have one eye on what’s coming down the line.