PREVIEWS AND PREDICTIONS: Make or break time in Laois Senior football championship

Quarter final places up for grabs in Senior football championship as relegation trap door looms for four more teams

PREVIEWS AND PREDICTIONS: Make or break time in Laois Senior football championship

Four more teams will exit the Laois senior football championship this weekend as the Round three, qualifier section takes centre stage.

With the four winners from the Round two games gone through to the quarter finals, four round three games are down for decision with the winners advancing to the quarter finals and the losers seeing their championship dreams come to an end for another year.

Arles-Kileen, Ballylinan, The Heath and Ballyfin all saw their championship hopes go up in smoke two weeks ago and they will also contest relegation semi finals this weekend with the losers from those semi finals facing off in a relegation final with the loser of that heading for the Intermediate grade for 2022.

The stakes are high this weekend and it will be interesting to see who can join Portarlington, Ballyroan-Abbey, Graiguecullen and O'Dempsey's in the quarter finals in two weeks time.

Clonaslee v Courtwood – Saturday October 2 – O'Moore Park 6pm

The first of the round three games sees Clonaslee, on the back of a fine win over Ballylinan come up against a Courtwood team that found the going all too tough against championship favourites Portarlington in round two.

Courtwood were impressive against Portlaoise in the opening round and how they bounce back from that Port defeat will in interesting. Niall Donoher continues to be a live wire at centre forward while Sean O'Flynn and Danny Luttrell are players they will need big games from.

Clonaslee missed a bag of goals against Ballylinan but they will be encouraged by the fact that they were creating them and from firing the last six points of the game to get the win. Niall Corbet's pace is their biggest asses while out the field Liam Senior and John Rigney are powerful runners going forward.

Verdict: Courtwood

Emo v Rosenallis – Saturday October 2 – O'Moore Park 7.30pm

Emo haven't reached the heights of last year to date and struggled to get over the line against The Heath in the last round. Paul Lawlor picked up a red card in that game and his loss would be a massive blow to their scoring threat.

Rosenallis fell at the hands of O'Dempsey's in round two but with so many dual players in their ranks, they will be buoyed by their hurling exploits of last weekend.

A potential tussle with John O'Loughlin and Darren Strong could prove a big battle and it is yet another game where you could make genuine cases for both.

Verdict: Rosenallis

Killeshin v Stradbally – Sunday October 3 – O'Moore Park 2.30pm

Killeshin edged out Arles-Killeen after extra time in round two but that game had an ugly ending with a mass brawl involving players and supporters. They will no doubt pick up suspensions from that and this could impact their chances.

Stradbally never really got going against Graiguecullen but they did show in the opening round that they were capable of putting up big scores when they accounted for Arles-Kileen.

Both look some way off for contending for the championship but momentum can be a big thing and a win for either here could spark them into life.

Verdict: Stradbally

Portlaoise v St Joseph's – Sunday October 3 – O'Moore Park 7pm

Portlaoise did well to grab the win over Ballyfin when for long periods, it didn't look likely. They are struggling this year so far but they have the players and if they can click into gear, they could challenge for honours this year although current form would suggest otherwise.

St Joseph's were involved in an extra time, ding dong battle with Ballyroan-Abbey in round two and although they came out the wrong side of it, their performance improved as the match wore on.

James Kelly anchors them at centre back while Portlaoise will be looking to the evergreen Paul Cahillane to fire them into the next round. A nervy nod to the Portlaoise men.

Verdict: Portlaoise.

Senior relegation semi finals

The Heath v Ballyfin – Sunday October 3 – O'Moore Park 1pm.

Ballyfin got to a County semi final in 2020 but were handed tough draws in 2021 with Portarlington in round one and Portlaoise in round two. They had the chances to beat Portlaoise and will be happy with some aspects of their play and any team that has a player with the calibre of Sean Moore in their side always has a chance.

The Heath haven't shown as much promise as their opponents so far but it is all on the day in these times of games and if they can get James Phelan prominent in the game, he can cause headaches for the Ballyfin rearguard.

Verdict: Ballyfin

Arles-Killeen v Ballylinan – Sunday October 3 – O'Moore Park 5.30pm

This one is hard to call also. Arles-Killeen, like Killeshin, are likely to have suspensions in their ranks following the fall out from their game with Killeshin while Ballylinan had Seamus Lacey go off injured and Gary Walsh practically on one leg when they lost out to Clonaslee in round two. The outcome will very much be dependant on the players both have available to them.

Ballylinan might just have more strength in depth.

Verdict: Ballylinan.

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