Laois v Offaly, Saturday, 7 pm, O’Moore Park, Portlaoise.
Laois and Offaly meet in the local derby on Saturday night in Portlaoise where a big crowd is expected for the game. A place in Round 4 of the All-Ireland qualifiers is at stake. A win in round 4 would see either Laois or Offaly progress to the Super 8’s.
Looking at Laois they come into the game on the back of playing three championship games this summer. They beat Westmeath in the Leinster quarter-final 0-12 to 0-10, before they lost out to Meath 3-13 to 0-11 in the Leinster semi-final. They beat Derry though in Round 2 of the qualifiers. Laois manager John Sugrue will look to players like Stephen Attride, Gareth Dillion and Rob Piggott. In midfield, John O’Loughlin will partner Kieran Lillis. In the forward line Donal Kingston, Colm Murphy and Evan O’Carroll.
Offaly have had a good run of things so far in the championship also playing three games. They lost out narrowly to Meath in the first round of the Leinster championship. They played London in the first round of the All-Ireland qualifiers beating London 1-21 to 1-11. In round 2 of the qualifiers, Niall McNamee was the star of the show scoring two goals in a 3-17 to 0-15 win over Sligo. John Maughan will look for a big performance here from his side. Eoin Rigney, Johnny Moloney, and Niall Darby will be key players in the defence. In the forwards, Niall and Ruairi McNamee, as well as Bernard Allen, will be key players.
Previous Championship Meetings
This is the first championship meeting between the sides since 2006. Laois won that day in a low scoring encounter in a Round 4 qualifier by 1-09 to 0-04. Laois beat Offaly in 2003 and 2005 championship also. Offaly’s last win over their neighbours came in 2002 when they won by 0-13 to 2-06.
Laois: Graham Brody; Stephen Attride, Denis Booth, Gareth Dillon; Sean O’Flynn, Robert Pigott, Patrick O’Sullivan; John O’Loughlin, Kieran Lillis; Daniel O’Reilly, Donal Kingston, Damien O’Connor; Paul Kingston, Colm Murphy, Evan O’Carroll.
Offaly: Paddy Dunican, Declan Hogan, Eoin Rigney, David Dempsey, Cian Donohue. Johnny Moloney, Niall Darby, Eoin Carroll, Peter Cunningham, Shane Horan, Anton Sullivan, Cathal Mangan, Bernard Allen, Niall McNamee, Ruairi McNamee.
Laois are 1/2 to win this game, while Offaly are priced at odds of 9/4. The draw is 15/2. I expect Laois to win and the handicap market of Laois -2 at even looks good odds.