Laois must beware backlash as Carlow come to town

After a bright start to their NHL Division 2 campaign, there is no time for the Laois senior hurlers to rest on their laurels as they welcome Carlow to O’Moore Park this Sunday.

After a bright start to their NHL Division 2 campaign, there is no time for the Laois senior hurlers to rest on their laurels as they welcome Carlow to O’Moore Park this Sunday.

There is certainly no love lost between these sides, with this weekend’s game set to be their fourth meeting in less than 12 months. Laois have gotten the better of their neighbours more often than not in the last few years, but they are on something of a revenge mission this time around.

Back in late June of last year, Carlow knocked them out of the All-Ireland championship in the first qualifying round, and now they come to Portlaoise hoping to upset Laois’ hopes of qualifying for a league final.

While Laois were cruising to victory over Westmeath on Sunday, Carlow were suffering through one of the surprise results of the opening weekend, a 2-11 to 0-14 loss to Down in Portaferry. As Laois know from travelling up there last year, results aren’t earned easily on the Ards peninsula, but Carlow’s failure to get something from the game was still a shock, and they will be looking to bounce back immediately.

From their point of view, a game with Laois is probably just what they need. After the disappointment of the weekend, a trip to play their local rivals should focus the minds, and Laois would be well served in putting no stock on their result against Down.

On Laois’ side of things, they come into the game with no new injury worries, as John Brophy appears to have suffered no ill-effects from the leg injury he picked up in the first half of the Westmeath game.

None of the Laois players could be said to have played themselves out of contention with their displays on Sunday, but if there is a change from the starting 15, it could see Owen Houlihan coming into the side. The Rathdowney-Errill man scored three points from play when introduced against Westmeath, and is the most likely candidate to break into the team.

The performance which beat Westmeath will need to be improved upon for this weekend, and with the game being played as part of a double header with the footballers, it should add a bit more noise and colour to the game.

If Laois are looking for areas where they can improve from Sunday, it would probably be in the act of creating and scoring goals. Down struck for two goals against Carlow, and they ultimately proved to be crucial. If Laois can take advantage of Neil Foyle’s presence on the edge of the square, and the impressive early season form of John Purcell and John Brophy, they should pick up a second win here.