We have live score commentary and team news from Wednesday’s Leinster U21 Hurling final between Kilkenny v Laois.
Excitement is building in Laois ahead of the county’s first appearance in the Leinster u21 hurling final for over two decades. None of the current panel were born the last time Laois contested a provincial decider at this level in 1990 and it’s 29 years since the county tasted success in this competition.
The O’Moore county is facing a daunting challenge in their bid to create a piece of hurling history. They will take on a Kilkenny side eager to make up in some small way for the senior team’s eclipse by Galway on Sunday and to win a first Leinster title in three years.
Laois will be buoyed by strong home support. After the Cats brushed aside the challenge of Wexford in the semi final, the Kilkenny county board offered to cede home advantage and play the game in O’Moore Park.
Tony Doran has made a huge impact on the Laois team this year and they overcame reigning Leinster champions Dublin by four points in a thrilling finish to their opening round game. The game was in the melting pot right up to the final whistle but Laois came from behind with two late goals helping them spring a huge shock.
In contrast, their victory over close rivals Carlow was a much tighter but no less tense and dramatic affair with just a single point separating the two sides at the end.
Kilkenny welcome back wing forward Cillian Buckley as they bid for their 23rd Leinster title. Buckley played in midfield in that astonishing game against Galway on Sunday but Kilkenny have threats all over the park. John Power, brother of senior star Richie, proves that the Kilkenny conveyor belt of talent is still rolling despite the Cats failure to reach the final of this competition since 2009.
GAA President Liam O’Neill is eagerly anticipating his county’s first appearance in a final at this grade for almost three decades but is wary of the threat posed by Kilkenny, who are looking to avoid defeat in all three Leinster hurling finals this summer.
“Laois have done brilliantly to qualify for this Leinster U-21 final and the fact they are now just one step away from provincial silverware is a testament to the work being doing within the county to promote hurling. However, despite this novel pairing I have no doubt that Kilkenny will travel to O’Moore Park eager to make up from their senior disappointment at the weekend.”
In team news, Kilkenny make one personnel change as John Power starts while Cathal Kenny drops to the bench. Laois make two changes to the back line with John Finane being replaced by Bill Duggan which means Anthony Phelan switches to corner back and Duggan taking his place at centre back.
Laois: E.Fleming, P.Flynn, G.Burke, A.Phelam, J.Fitzpatrick, B.Duggan, J.Unwin, D.Freeman, B.Dunne, W.Dunphy, P.Lawlor, S.Maher, B.Reddin, N.Foyle, D.King
Kilkenny: D.Walsh, J.Corcoran, W.Phelan, B.Kennedy, L.Harney, R.Doyle, J.Lyng, G.Brennan, O.Walsh, K.Kelly, P.Walsh, C.Buckley, W.Walsh, J.Power, G.Aylward