Battle to beat the drop the focus in Laois Senior Football Championship

The Laois SFC returns this week, as Portlaoise look to sound a further warning to their rivals when they take on Portarlington on Sunday evening.

The Laois SFC returns this week, as Portlaoise look to sound a further warning to their rivals when they take on Portarlington on Sunday evening.

After their demolition of Crettyard in the opening round, they now turn their attentions to a youthful Portarlington outfit, who have lost just one game this year between league and championship.

First up in the programme of games, however, are Stradbally and Crettyard, who meet on Thursday night. The winners will be given a reprieve back into the championship, while the losers will be left in a relegation semi-final.

Stradbally will be favourites to bounce back after narrowly losing to Timahoe in round one, in a game which was widely regarded as the most entertaining championship match in the county in recent years.

Friday night sees two more teams beaten in the first round, The Heath and Killeshin, face up to each other. It is a measure of how far Killeshin have progressed over the last few years, as they kick started their recent revival with a narrow win over The Heath’s second team in the Junior A final back in 2008. They now meet the club’s first team and will come into the clash as favourites in the eyes of many.

Saturday sees the first double-header of the weekend, as an emigration plagued O’Dempsey’s meet a similarly affected Ballylinan, while in the tie of the round, Arles-Kilcruise will meet last year’s beaten finalists and near neighbours Graiguecullen.

There is another local derby on Sunday, as both Clonaslee and Mountmellick look to avoid another scrap with relegation when they face off at midday on Sunday, with Mountmellick’s neoghbours The Rock meeting St Joseph’s in the winners section.

In the final game of the weekend, Arles-Killeen meet Timahoe on Sunday evening. For four of the teams playing in the losers section their interest in the SFC will end by this weekend, as a second successive defeat will leave them with no route back into the championship, and all four will then be consigned to fight it out for relegation.