Laois Seniors set out to defend their Provincial title of 2011 when they take on Dublin on Sunday next at 3pm in the Leinster semi-final at a Dublin venue.
This is a huge challenge for Joe Higgins’ charges, and they will have to be in top form to overcome the Jackies. Dublin disposed of Kildare in their quarter final meeting in Newbridge on Sunday last by 1-14 to 2-4 and are very determined to win back the Leinster crown they last held in 2010.
Laois v Dublin games are generally close affairs and their last meeting in the championship, the 2011 All-Ireland semi-final, certainly lived up to that billing.
That game was a cliffhanger from start to finish. Laois were leading with minutes to go when Lindsey Davies got through for the only goal of the game with two minutes remaining to nudge the Dubs in front and break Laois hearts.
The last occasion when the sides met was in the Bord Gais Energy League Division 1 on April 2 last, when Dublin won, after a dour encounter, by 0-11 to 0-8. Despite the fact that a number of established players, such as Denise Masterson and Siobhan McGrath, have recently pulled out of the Dublin panel they still have a huge array of talent to pick from.
A core of experienced players such as All-Star goalie Cliodhna O’Connor, fullback Joanne O’Sullivan plus Gemma Fay, Sinead Ahern, Niamh McEvoy, Amy McGuinness and Sinead Goldrick still form the backbone of the present Dublin outfit.
In terms of experience Laois can match any county. Captain Tracey Lawlor and Mary Kirwan lead the way, with Grace Weston, Trish Fogarty, Martha Kirwan, Maggie Murphy and Mags McEvoy all possessing All-Ireland medals from the famous 2001 title winning side. Noirin Kirwan, Aisling Quigley, Laura Hyland, Eimear Fitzpatrick and Marion O’Grady are others with vast knowledge of championship football.
Complementing these are a number of very talented younger players, like Ciamh Dollard, Anna Moore, Jane Moore, Alison Taylor, Ellen Healy, Sara Quigley, Aisling Kehoe and Sinead Doogue who have emerged in recent years and have blended in nicely with the longer serving hands.
A fascinating contest is in prospect.
Laois panel: Ciamh Dollard (Portlaoise), Sarah McEvoy (Crettyard), Jane Moore (Ballylinan), Ellen Healy (Portlaoise), Mags McEvoy (Sarsfields), Trish Fogarty (Park-Ratheniska), Alison Taylor (Portlaoise), Tracey Lawlor (Sarsfields - Capt), Aisling Quigley (Timahoe), Sara Quigley (Timahoe), Mary Kirwan (Shanahoe), Sinead Doogue (Graiguecullen), Maggie Murphy (Timahoe), Eimear Fitzpatrick (Shanahoe), Laura Hyland (Park-Ratheniska), Anna Moore (Ballylinan), Grace Weston (Sarsfields), Eimear Barry (Shanahoe), Noreen Kirwan (Shanahoe), Martha Kirwan (Shanahoe), Aisling Kehoe (Portlaoise), Marion O’Grady (Shanahoe), Clodagh Dunne (Sarsfields), Clodagh Dunne (Ballyroan), Aisling Wall (Ballylinan), Aine Haberlin (St Conleth’s)