Tuesday 22 January 2019

All eyes on Stradbally as Sheridan seeks to save the day

Meath’s Joe Sheridan. Pic: Sportsfile
Meath’s Joe Sheridan. Pic: Sportsfile

There's only one place to start when previewing the climax to this year's Bord na Móna O'Byrne Cup group stages - and that's Stradbally tonight (7.0).

The main plot? A winner-takes-all Group 3 shootout between Laois and Meath, both currently boasting maximum points and massive scoring differences, to see who progresses to the semi-final.

The sub-plot? This is even more intriguing, as Meath tourists venture deep into Laois to monitor the Royal return of Joe Sheridan.

Long presumed 'retired', his comeback is even more fascinating for its poacher-turned-keeper status.

Sheridan isn't the first outfield player renowned for his prodigious deadball striking to be linked with a goalkeeping conversion ... but whereas talk of Kerry's Bryan Sheehan last August was all mischievous speculation, this is for real.

Will it work? Who can tell - but we'll all be watching this space.

By dint of their superior scoring difference, a draw would suffice for the visitors ... but performance levels will matter just as much to two new bosses (Meath's Andy McEntee and Laois's Peter Creedon) seeking some early-season momentum.

Kildare are firmly in control of their Group 2 destiny ahead of tomorrow's derby clash with Offaly in Tullamore (2.0). Cian O'Neill's men have a maximum four points, two clear of Offaly and Longford, while their staggering scoring difference (plus 41) is also liable to shield them in the event of defeat.

Kildare could conceivably be caught if they lose and IT Carlow ambush Longford, with Offaly then advancing on the head-to-head rule ... but the students' scoring difference of minus 64 makes a nonsense of that prospect.

In Group 4, Louth have full points and only need a home draw with Carlow to guarantee progress - although they could still be pipped by either Carlow or Westmeath.

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