Laois v Dublin, Sunday, 4.15pm, O’Moore Park, Portlaoise
This is a big game for both with an All-Ireland quarter-final place against Tipperary up for grabs for the winner. Laois will fancy their chances of causing an upset as well after putting in some massive performances in the Joe McDonagh Cup accumulating massive scores. Dublin were unlucky to miss out on a Leinster Final spot with score difference not going their way.
Laois will have a massive following in for this game on Sunday which forms part of a double header where Meath and Clare play in the All-Ireland qualifiers. Eddie Brennan will know his side will have to improve even from the Joe McDonagh Cup Final win over Westmeath but that isn’t possible. Laois racked up massive scores in the Joe McDonagh Cup, 4-23 against Offaly, 2-24 against Antrim, 5-17 against Kerry, 1-22 against Westmeath in the final of the round robin games and then in the final last weekend, they registered 3-26. If they register anything around that mark again they will be winning this game. Eddie Brennan has brought something different to Laois and although they are now in bonus territory he will at the very least want to see a performance from his side. In defence, Matthew Whelan, Jack Kelly and Lee Cleere will look for big performances. In attack, players like Mark Kavanagh, Stephen Maher and Charles Dwyer will need big performances.
Mattie Kenny will have his Dublin well prepared for this game no doubt. A win here will be crucial for them. They had a good Leinster round robin and only for score difference could have been in a Leinster Final last weekend. They lost to Kilkenny, drew with Wexford, beat Carlow and beat Galway in the round robin series. A crack at Tipperary in Croke Park is what this Dublin team needs to progress even further and you wouldn’t rule them out in that game either if they were to beat Laois on Sunday. Mattie Kenny will look to players like Chris Crummey and Sean Moran in defence, Sean Treacy and Tomas Connolly will likely continue in midfield. Conal Keaney, Danny Sutcliffe and Liam Rushe will be the main men in the attack.
Last 5 Championship Meetings
2017 Dublin 2-28 Laois 1-15 (All-Ireland qualifiers)
2015 Dublin 4-17 Laois 0-19 (All-Ireland qualifiers)
2012 Dublin 3-23 Laois 1-07 (Leinster quarter-final)
2010 Dublin 0-25 Laois 0-16 (Leinster quarter-final)
2005 Dublin 3-13 Laois 1-10 (Relegation/Play-off)
Laois are looking for their first win over Dublin since 2005 when they won a Leinster quarter-final 4-14 to 0-14. Since they have lost to Dublin by a combined margin of 66 points. Dublin last reached the All-Ireland quarter-finals in 2015 where they lost to Waterford, Laois last appeared in the quarter-final in 1979 losing to Galway.
Laois: Enda Rowland; Lee Cleere, Matthew Whelan, Joe Phelan; Jack Kelly, Ryan Mullaney, Padraig Delaney; John Lennon, Paddy Purcell; Aaron Dunphy, Mark Kavanagh, Stephen Maher; Willie Dunphy, Charles Dwyer, Ross King.
Dublin: Alan Nolan; Paddy Smyth, Shane Barrett, Cian Hendricken; Chris Crummey, Sean Moran, James Madden; Sean Treacy, Tom Connolly; Conal Keaney, Danny Sutcliffe, Cian Boland; Oisin O’Rorke, Ronan Hayes, Eamonn Dillon.
Dublin are 1/10 to win this game, Laois are priced at 15/2 and the draw is 14/1. I expect Dublin to win this but they won’t get it all that easy. Dublin -8 at 10/11 is the bet for me.