Laois GAA fans will have to wait for less than a week of the New Year to elapse before they can emerge from their winter hibernation as the Laois senior footballers begin their O’Byrne Cup campaign this Sunday, January 6.
Five months on from their gallant display against Dublin, Laois will be looking to blow off the cobwebs of the winter break against local rivals Offaly.
It promises to be a hectic start to 2013 for Justin McNulty and his players as they will play three games in a week starting from this Sunday, in the revised O’Byrne Cup format.
Now played in a group stage, Laois meet Offaly on Sunday in Tullamore, then welcome Westmeath to O’Moore Park on Wednesday night at 7.30pm, before rounding off the group with another home game against Athlone IT on Sunday week, January 13, at 2pm.
It will give Justin McNulty ample opportunity to run the rule over all of his panel as he looks to plot an immediate return to Division 1 of the NFL.
He will be boosted by the return to the panel of Donie Kingston, who has decided to throw his lot in behind the senior footballers for 2013 after taking a sabbatical last year to concentrate on his studies and spend the summer in the USA.
Conor Meredith, back in Ireland after his time in Australia, has also joined the panel and will be in line to make his senior debut for Laois after a hugely promising minor career. He was one of O’Dempsey’s best players on their run to the semi-finals of the Laois SFC last year, and his versatility could see him play anywhere from the half back line to the full-forward line.
The Heath’s Denis Booth has also re-joined the panel having not been involved last year, and he is joined by club mate Ciaran Booth, as the early jostling for positions on the team will begin in earnest. It is also hoped Niall Donoher will be able to make his long-awaited return from a knee injury this year, after his 2012 season frustratingly slipped by without a ball kicked having been ruled out prior to the start of last year’s league campaign.
Throw in this Sunday is at 2pm, and Laois will meet an Offaly team trying to drag itself out of the doldrums having been relegated to Division 4 of the NFL last year.
Laois begin their league campaign on February 2 with a home game against Armagh.