Laois senior football manager Justin McNulty has a number of injuries to contend with ahead of this weekend’s must-win clash with Carlow, as the county’s senior footballers look to get their season back on track.
Key defensive duo Peter O’Leary and Mark Timmons are both nursing hamstring injuries, while Billy Sheehan is also suffering with a problem to his AC joint in his shoulder.
O’Leary picked up the injury playing for his club, O’Dempsey’s, in a recent ACFL Division 1 game and was withdrawn as a precaution. It is hoped that he didn’t cause too much damage to the hamstring and he took some part in training over the weekend, although a final decision on his participation will be made clearer after training on Tuesday night.
Timmons has been troubled with a hamstring problem throughout this year, and he missed a sizeable chunk of the season when he first injured it during the league. Sheehan’s shoulder injury is also being monitored, but the management team are hoping all three can shake off the various knocks and strains and be available for selection.
On the plus side, Padraig McMahon is likely to come into the reckoning for a starting place after getting a good month’s worth of training and games under his belt since the defeat to Longford.
McMahon returned from a round the world trip a couple of weeks before the game, and despite rejoining the panel it was felt it was too soon to consider him for a starting position. He has since returned to action with Ballyroan Abbey and has been training well with Justin McNulty’s squad as well, so he will add competition to a back line which has found itself short on cover at times this year.
Laois come into the game as 1/10 favourites with the bookmakers, but Justin McNulty and his players will be under much scrutiny after the second-half collapse against Longford back in May.
The team’s style of play was the subject of discussion at the county board meeting which followed days later, and expectations are high that the team will easily account for Carlow.
Luke Dempsey’s side have shown their best and worst sides already in this championship, having surprised most GAA observers by taking Meath to a replay when the sides met in early June, but Meath came back to win the replay 2-21 to 1-9. Which Carlow side shows up remains to be seen, but the sight of a Laois jersey is sure to draw that bit more from the Barrowsiders.
With Laois having struggled for scores at times this year, the forward line will be hoping for more joy this weekend too. With supporters looking for signs of a more attacking or, at least, more clinical performance, it remains to be seen if McNulty and his selectors will make changes to the side from the Longford game, or if they will keep their faith in the players which started that game.
The team is due to be announced on Thursday, with throw in for this Saturday’s game down for 7pm. Follow Leinster Express Sport on Twitter for live updates from the game.