Portlaoise will begin their latest big for Leinster Club SFC honours this weekend when they take on Wicklow champions St Pat’s in Aughrim.
The Wicklow-town based side won their first ever game in the provincial championships two weeks ago against Carlow champions Éire Óg, with Paul Earls’ goal in extra-time eventually sealing a remarkable 3-10 to 2-11 victory.
There will be at least one familiar face in the St Patrick’s line up also, as former Stradbally footballer Darragh McEvoy will be lining out in midfield. He works in Wicklow town as a garda, and has been a big addition to the club in their quest to equal Rathnew and Baltinglass by becoming only the third Wicklow team to win a provincial title.
This is their third Leinster club SFC campaign since 2004, with McEvoy winning his first championship with them this year after suffering defeats in the 2008 and 2009 finals.
It will be a much-changed Portlaoise team he will meet too, as only a handful of the players who brought them success during his time with Stradbally are still involved.
Brian McCormack, Michael Nolan and Kevin Fitzpatrick are the three notable veterans on the Portlaoise team, and joint managers Mick Lillis and Mark Kavanagh will be hoping McCormack can continue his impressive scoring form of late against the Wicklow champions.
Portlaoise came through the recent SFC final relatively unscathed, and come into the game as red-hot favourites with Paddy Power listing them as 1/4 favourites for this game and 6/4 favourites for the Leinster title, with Ballymun Kickhams next in line at 7/4. Throw in for Sunday’s game is 2.30pm in Aughrim.