Cork v Laois, Saturday, 5 pm, Semple Stadium.
Cork and Laois football supporters will make the trip to Semple Stadium, Thurles, on Saturday evening knowing that a win for their respective will guarantee a place in the All-Ireland quarter-final series (Super 8’s). It will be a difficult first game for whoever wins here though as they will have to go up against the All-Ireland Champions at Croke Park. There is no live coverage of this game but we will be providing updates from the link below.
Cork have impressed me in the championship to date since been relegated from Division 2 in the league many people were saying Cork football is gone. However, they showed in the Munster Final that when they put in a performance anything is possible. They pushed Kerry all the way. They lost 1-19 to 3-10. Ronan McCarthy obviously wanted the win but in terms of football they put in a big performance. A repeat of that performance will be good enough here to book a Super 8 place also. In defence, Cork will look to James Loughrey, Kevin Flahive and Tom Clancy. Ian Maguire put in a big performance in midfield against Kerry and he will be hoping for the same this time around. In attack, Brian Hurley, Ruairi Deane, and Luke Connolly all impressed and these should get the chance to show their skills yet again.
Laois come into the game on the back of four championship games. They beat Westmeath 0-12 to 0-10 in the Leinster quarter-final, before losing out to Meath in the semi-final 3-13 to 0-11. John Sugrue’s men have turned things around since then though with a 1-13 to 0-12 win over Derry and then last weekend a 0-20 to 0-15 win over Offaly. They will surely fancy their chance of winning this one as well. In defence, Denis Booth, Stephen Attride and Robert Piggott will need to have big games. In attack, much of the scoring will likely be done by Paul and Donie Kingston who kicked 0-10 between them in the win over Offaly, while the experienced Ross Munnelly and Colm Murphy could also have a big say on proceedings.
This is the first meeting of the sides in championship football. Cork are looking to reach the quarter-final for the first time since 2014, they reached every quarter-final from the years 2005 to 2014 previously to that. Laois last reached the quarter-final stages in 2012, having previously been there in 2003, 2005 and 2006.
Cork: 1. Mark White (Clonakilty), 2. Nathan Walsh (Douglas), 3. James Loughrey (Mallow), 4. Kevin Flahive (Douglas), 5. Liam O’ Donovan (Clonakilty), 6. Thomas Clancy (Clonakilty), 7. Mattie Taylor (Mallow), 8. Ian Maguire (St Finbarrs) (Captain), 9. Killian O’ Hanlon (Kilshannig), 10. Kevin O’ Driscoll (Tadhg MacCarthaigh), 11. Sean White (Clonakilty)
12. Ruairi Deane (Bantry Blues), 13. Luke Connolly (Nemo Rangers), 14. Brian Hurley (Castlehaven), 15. Mark Collins (Castlehaven)
Laois (All-Ireland SFC v Cork): Graham Brody; Stephen Attride, Denis Booth, Gareth Dillon; Trevor Collins, Robert Pigott, Patrick O’Sullivan; John O’Loughlin, Kieran Lillis; Daniel O’Reilly, Donie Kingston , Marty Scully; Paul Kingston, Colm Murphy, Ross Munnelly.
Cork are 1/2 favourites to win, with Laois 2/1 to come away from Thurles with the win. Mark Collins at 16/5 to score a goal anytime looks a good bet.