Laois v Limerick, Saturday, 7pm, Portlaoise
The TG4 cameras will be in O’Moore Park, Portlaoise for this Division 1 quarter final meeting between Laois and Limerick on Saturday evening. It promises to be an exciting games with Limerick the All-Ireland Hurling Champions coming to town.
Laois manager Eddie Brennan will be delighted his side have remained in Division 1b and don’t face a relegation battle. His side finished 4th in Division 1b meaning they play top of Division 1a subsequently that is Limerick. Laois played 5 games, winning one, drawing one and losing three, the losses came to the Divisions 3 biggest sides Galway, Waterford and Dublin, they beat Offaly comfortably enough and they drew with Carlow in their most recent game. John Kiely’s Limerick have hit the ground running this year yet again, they have played 5 games, winning three, drawing one and losing one. The wins came against Tipperary, Wexford and Kilkenny, the draw with Clare last weekend and they lost to Cork. John Kiely will be really impressed with his side.
Looking at some team news now, firstly with Laois. They played well against Carlow and I expect a similar team to be named here by former multiple All-Ireland winner Brennan. In defence Matthew Whelan is very soild at full back, a no nonsense defender, Ryan Mullaney is another player who has took the league by storm with some superb performances at centre back. John Lennon and Sean Downey started against Carlow they are likely to continue their partnership here once more. Charles Dwyer is likely to get some game time as well. In attack, then the full forward line will be very key, Mark Kavanagh, Stephen Maher and Willie Dunphy will be all expected to provide the scores. Limerick come into the game after a tough game against Clare in Ennis last weekend in the driving snow. That weather is unlikely to hit this weekend so I can see a much higher score from the Shannonsiders here. In defence, players like Dan Morrissey, Tom Condon and Diarmuid Byrnes will be key, while Declan Hannon will once again command the centre back position. Cian Lynch and Kyle Hayes will also be expected to have big games, in midfield and attack. Other players like Aaron Gillane, Graeme Mulcahy, Shane Dowling, Tom Morrissey and Gearoid Hegarty may be given a chance to star once again in what is becoming a very tough Limerick XV to get your place in.
Limerick: Barry Hennessy (Kilmallock); Tom Condon (Knockaderry), Dan Morrissey (Ahane), William O’Meara (Askeaton); Diarmaid Byrnes (Patrickswell), Declan Hannon (Adare), Barry Nash (South Liberties); Darragh O’Donovan (Doon), Robbie Hanley (Kilmallock); Gearoid Hegarty (St Patricks), David Dempsey (Na Piarsaigh), Conor Boylan (Na Piarsaigh); Peter Casey (Na Piarsaigh), Seamus Flanagan (Feohanagh), Barry Murphy (Doon)
Laois : Enda Rowland; Joe Phelan, Matthew Whelan, Donncha Hartnett; Padraig Delaney, Ryan Mullaney, Lee Cleere; Jack Kelly, Sean Downey; Paddy Purcell, Mark Kavanagh, Aaron Dunphy; John Lennon, Neil Foyle, Stephen Bergin.
This game is a foregone conclusion before the ball even throws in according to the bookmakers. Laois are massive odds of 11/1 to win in what would be the shock of the year, while Limerick are 1/33 and the draw is 25/1. No value there in terms of betting, Aaron Gillane to score goal anytime at 6/5 may be worth a bet.