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Your guide to the game as Laois hurlers face Down in NHL Division 2A semi final

NHL Division 2A – Laois v Down
In O’Moore Park at 3.30pm

The Laois hurlers take on Down this afternoon in semi final of the NHL Division 2A.

Team news?

The Laois senior hurlers have made wholesale changes ahead of the game this afternoon.

Laois defeated Kerry in a dead rubber game last weekend and have made eight alterations from the team on that day.

Enda Rowland returns in goals with Cathal Dunne dropping to the bench.

Liam O’Connell and Tom Cuddy are back in defence with Padraic Dunne, Lee Cleere and Fiachra C-Fennell also moving to the replacements.

Ian Shanahan has moved back to corner back with Rathdowney-Errill’s Paddy Purcell back in midfield.

While in attack, Ross King and Tomas Keyes are the only forwards to retain their places.

Stephen Bergin, Willie Dunphy, James Duggan and John Lennon are all on the bench with Jer Quinlan, Martin Phelan, David Dooley and captain Aaron Dunphy returning.

LAOIS: Enda Rowland (Abbeyleix), Ian Shanahan (Ballinakill), Ryan Mullaney (Castletown), Diarmaid Conway (Clough-Ballacolla); Liam O’Connell (Rathdowney-Errill), Podge Delaney (The Harps), Tom Cuddy (Camross); Aidan Corby (Clough-Ballacolla), Paddy Purcell (Rathdowney-Errill); Aaron Dunphy (Borris-Kilcotton), Ross King (Rathdowney-Errill), David Dooley (Rosenallis); Jer Quinlan (Borris-Kilcotton), Martin Phelan (Castletown), Tomas Keyes (Camross)

SUBS: Cathal Dunne (Clough-Ballacolla), Padraic Dunne (The Harps), Fiachra C-Fennell (Rosenallis), Lee Cleere (Clough-Ballacolla), Donnchadh Hartnett (Rosenallis), John Lennon (Rosenallis), Podge Lawlor (Ballinakill), Eric Killeen (Rathdowney-Errill), Willie Dunphy (Clough-Ballacolla), James Duggan (The Harps), Stephen Bergin (Clough-Ballacolla)

Down have yet to name their team.

What has Down’s form been like?

Down struggled in 2023 where they picked up only one point from five games in Division 2 and only avoided relegation on scoring difference ahead of Derry.

Having said that, they were relatively competitive, losing by just a point to Kerry and Kildare and by three to Offaly.

Their Joe McDonagh Cup campaign was even worse, losing their first four games by an average of 20 points per game, before maintaining their status thanks to a final round win over Kildare.

Among those losses in last year’s championship was a massive 7-24 to 0-14 defeat to Laois.

However, 2024 has been much better so far for manager Ronan Sheehan and his charges.

They lost to Laois in Round 1 but defeated Kerry in Round 2. They then drew with Kildare and lost to Carlow.

That meant that victory over Meath in the final game would be enough to secure a semi final spot and that is exactly what they did.

What Down players should we watch out for?

Paul Sheehan hit six points for Down in the game against Laois this season and is back for another campaign having initially signalled that he was retiring.

Midfielder Donal Hughes and the Sands brothers, Eoghan and Daithi, are all decent players too.

Daithi scored a hat-trick in the win over Meath last week. But Eoghan will miss out as he is suspended following a red card against Meath last week.

Pearse Og McCrickard is very solid on frees also.

What happens after today?

If Laois win, they will progress to the league final against Carlow which is scheduled for next weekend.

More importantly though, Laois will also be promoted to the new Division 1B.

That is set to contain Waterford, Offaly, Dublin, Westmeath, Antrim and Carlow.

If Laois lose, they will stay in Division 2A which will have Kildare, Kerry, Meath, Derry and either Donegal or Tyrone.

What are the odds?

Laois are 1/10 favourites for today’s game. Down are 13/2 and the draw is 14/1.

Tickets? TV?

The game is not available to watch on TV but we will keep you updated on our Live Blog.

Tickets can be purchased both online and in person using the following: Online by clicking here.

SEE ALSO – Check out all our latest local sports coverage here

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