LEINSTER SHC QF
LAOIS v GALWAY
(Portlaoise, Tomorrow, 4.0)
By Conor McKeon
SPEAKING after his under-21 team had wasted a valiant effort in Parnell Park on Wednesay night, Cheddar’ Plunkett said his players “live for hurling” that they’d “play 52 weekends a year if they could” but that “wider discussions were needed” over the structure of the championship.
KIlkenny, he has pointed out before, have reaped the benefits of minor teams going all the way to All-Ireland finals, the group having bonded and matured collectively in the summer months when hurling is at its best.
Plunkett’s team, on the other had, are generally expected to have their year ended here, on the June Bank Holiday weekend, having made huge progress but in the muck and wind and rain of January through May. Certainly, he has a point.
That six players who took part last Sunday in Portlaoise when Antrim somewhat surprisingly beat Laois played again against Dublin in the U21 competition last Wednesday seemed not to have unduly phased their manager, even if today will be sixth match in just over four weeks for some of his players.
For Galway, it’s been another of those unpredictable sort of springs.
Brilliant against Dublin and Tipperary, less so against Cork and Kilkenny and middling versus Clare.
Anthony Cunningham has been speaking this week of a “battle hardened” Laois team as opposed to his under-practiced outfit.
And last year, a similar set of circumstances appeared to prevail when Laois led by a point with 13 minutes to go before Galway thought their way around their packed defence to win by seven.
Expect something similar here.
ODDS: Laois 10/1, Draw 20/1 , Galway 1/18