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Unlike the football Championship, the Hurling Championship is giving teams a second chance this year. The first qualifying round takes place on Saturday. First up, Laois and Clare do battle to stay in the competition.
Laois lost out to Dublin in their opener by fourteen points, failing to replicate last year’s upset. But, this was the stage of the competition where they came alive in 2019.
Laois were hit hard with absences for the Dublin game but there were silver linings among the wreckage. For example, Eamonn Dillon hit 1-1 off the bench to put his hand up for selection on Saturday. Likewise, Ronan Broderick, Fiachra Fennell and James Keyes made debuts to make up for the absentees such as Matthew Whelan, Joe Phelan, John Lennon, Eanna Lyons and Cha Dwyer.
The midlands county had a decent second half against Dublin. However, the concession of 1-17 in the first 35 minutes meant the damage was done. Furthermore, there was evidence of tired legs on the open Croke Park field in the final ten minutes. Hopefully this was just a result of a seven-month interval.
On the other hand, Clare fell to Limerick by ten points in the Munster Championship quarter-final. At half-time they were very much deadlocked with 2013 Player of the Year Tony Kelly leading them out.
But, it was Limerick who came out firing in the second half and soon Clare found themselves at a deficit they couldn’t overturn, despite Kelly’s heroics.
Clare are very much favourites to continue in the competition. Paddy Power have priced the Banner men at 1/20 versus Laois’ 8/1. Meanwhile, a draw is 20/1.
The winner will take on Wexford the following week after their loss to Galway last weekend.
The game is live on GAAGo.
They meet for the sixth time in the championship with Clare having won the previous five as follows: 2016: Clare 5-32 Laois 0-12 (All-Ireland qualifiers)
2013: Clare 1-32 Laois 0-15 (All-Ireland qualifier)
2007: Clare 2-14 Laois 0-11 (All-Ireland qualifier)
2004: Clare 7-19 Laois 2-15 (All-Ireland qualifier)
1914: Clare 5-1 Laois 1-0 (All-Ireland final)
(1) Clare have beaten Laois by an average of 21 points in four qualifier ties since 2004.
(2) Clare lost to Limerick by 0-36 to 1-23 in the Munster quarter-final while Laois lost to Dublin by 2-31 to in the Leinster quarter-final.
(3) Tony Kelly scored 0-17 (0-9 frees) in Clare’s defeat by Limerick in the Munster quarter-final. *
(4) Ross King was top scorer for Laois (0-10, 0-9 frees, 0-1 ‘65’) in the defeat by Dublin in the Leinster quar ter-final
HURLING CHAMPIONSHIP SHORTS
*Limerick and Waterford will meet in the Munster final for the first time since 2007 when the Deise won by 3-17 to 1-14.
*Limerick will be bidding to retain the Munster title for the first time since 1980-81. *Waterford last won the Munster title in 2010.
*Galway and Kilkenny last met in the Leinster final in 2018.
*Kilkenny last won the Leinster title in 2016; Galway last won in 2018.
Hurling All-Ireland Qualifier Round 1: Laois vs Claire, Saturday, November 7th, 13:15 (Nowlan Park).
— Clare Gaa (@GaaClare) November 3, 2020