Cheddar needs a greater level from Laois
LAOIS V WESTMEATH
Portlaoise, Tomorrow 2.0
FEW would have predicted such a climax at the start of May: Laois, the obvious favourites to top Leinster's SHC qualifying group, requiring nothing less than victory here to effectively guarantee progress to the knockout stages.
An even bigger surprise? Westmeath boasting four points entering the last day.
Several permutations remain and Michael Ryan's buoyant visitors still aren't sure of a quarter-final berth, as defeat here and an Antrim win in Carlow would leave three teams tied on points.
In that context, however, scoring difference would count and Westmeath's ruthless streak against a woeful Antrim - cue a 17-point rout - could well prove decisive.
If May formguides are followed, the Lake men really should make it three on the spin as their touch, distribution and execution were all of a surprisingly high order in monsoon-like Mullingar conditions two weeks ago.
By contrast, Laois have performed in spurts and after being caught on the line by Antrim, they switched off near the end against Carlow and what should have been a comfortable win mutated into a nervy finish.
They eventually won by three and would settle for something similar here. And since it's probably win-or-bust for Cheddar Plunkett's men, we suspect that they'll rise to the occasion.
ODDS: Laois 4/11 Draw 10/1 W'M 12/5
ANTRIM V CARLOW
Cullen Pk, Tomorrow 2.0
WOULD the real Antrim please stand up? How can a team that overcame Laois perform so abysmally, a week later, against Westmeath?
Kevin Ryan was struggling for an answer afterwards and, with key players Arron Graffin and Neil McManus out injured, our hunch is that his team will also struggle against a Carlow crew desperate to avoid relegation.
ODDS: Carlow 11/10 Draw 9/1 Ant' 5/6