Having gone to the south east two weeks ago, the south east will be coming to O’Moore Park this Sunday, as the Laois senior hurlers face Carlow in the second game of their NHL Division 2 campaign.
Despite the result against Wexford, the players will still be coming into the game on a high after they recorded an impressive 4-18 to 4-16 win over Waterford over the weekend. Matthew Whelan, Zane Keenan and James Young all played in the game, and Laois manager Niall Rigney has confirmed that all three will start against Carlow this weekend.
Keenan and Whelan were both introduced as substitutes in the loss to Wexford, while Young made the bench for both Walsh Cup games and the Wexford game, but has yet to feature in the blue and white this year. Their return to the starting line up, and in particular the returns of Young and Whelan, will hopefully see the injury situation start to resolve itself as two of the higher profile absentees make their returns.
On the down side, Paddy Mullaney twisted his knee in the Waterford game while John A Delaney broke a finger against Wexford, but it is hoped that neither player will be ruled out for too long, and no decision has been made yet on whether they will feature this weekend.
The Carlow game offers Laois the chance to claim their first competitive victory of the season, and Niall Rigney and his management team will be hoping it can come against a side which they comfortable saw off in last years relegation/promotion playoff in the championship. Despite having had 10 points to spare over Carlow on that occasion, Laois are likely to face a much tougher test this weekend.
That game last year came just a week after Carlow had recorded an epic, extra time victory over Westmeath in the Christy Ring final. With the celebrations which may have ensued, Carlow may not have been in the best physical condition for that game and they were very slow to start. The last time the teams met in the League, two years ago in Dr Cullen Park, the game ended in a draw, so Laois can’t afford to take anything for granted this weekend.
Carlow have enjoyed a good start to the season, making the final of the Kehoe Cup and beating Kerry in their first game in the League. They will be keen to avenge their defeat of last year and will throw everything they have at Laois. It will be a tougher game than many may expect, but with home advantage and the return of Young, Keenan and Whelan, it should hopefully be enough to see Laois get a much needed victory.
Watch Out for: The return of Matthew Whelan. He looked sharp on his return against Wexford, and with Brian Campion and possibly John A Delaney missing, his inclusion is a welcome boost.
Team News: Paddy Mullaney and John A Delaney are doubts, John Walsh is recovering from a lung infection, while the other injuries have been well documented at this stage.
Last Meeting: Laois 4-18 Carlow 3-11, Promotion Relegation Playoff 2008
- Leinster Express