After the footballers had their first league outings of 2011 at the wekeend, the hurling clubs of the county will begin another season in earnest this Saturday and Sunday, as ACHL Divisions 1 and 2 get underway.
Perhaps the most anticipated game of the weekend will see Borris-in-Ossory/Kilcotton welcome Portlaoise for their seniors first league game as an amalgamated club.
There is sure to be a good buzz around the game, as the hosts will be keen to start their new life together on a winning note. With county players released for the game, they will be hoping the return of Neil Foyle, Matthew Whelan and Brian Stapleton will give them a timely boost after their juniors opened with a defeat to the same opposition last weekend.
Portlaoise enjoyed an impressive start to the 2010 league season, and after the manner in which their season unravelled last year - losing their last four games in the league and betting knocked out of the championship at the quarter-final stage, they are chomping at the bit to get back to competitive action.
The other stand out game of the weekend sees a repeat of last year’s county final, with Rathdowney-Errill making the trip to Camross.
Camross have had a quiet start to the year by their standards, as they usually go well in the Palmer Cup, but a first round defeat to Colt has seen them keep a lower profile than normal.
Another club beginning a new era is Castletown-Slieve Bloom, and they will welcome future championship opponents Abbeyleix to Deerpark in Slieve Bloom for their first league game this Sunday afternoon. The reigning Division 1 champions, Clough-Ballacolla, host Palmer Cup champions The Harps, while Ballinakill will finally return to home soil after a couple of years of a wait for a new playing surface when they take on Colt, making their return to the top-flight after claiming the Division 2 title last year.
Division 2 will get underway on Saturday, where IFC champions from 2010 Camross will meet the team Colt replaced in Diviison 1, St Fintan’s Mountrath. Ballyfin open with a clash against Rathdowney-Errill’s second team, while Borris-in-Ossory/Kilcotton host Shanahoe.
Elsewhere, Clonad take on The Harps, and Clough-Ballacolla play Trumera.