PREVIEW - Portlaoise red-hot favourites in championship opener with Ballyfin Gaels

Rory Delaney

Reporter:

Rory Delaney

Email:

rory@leinsterexpress.ie

PREVIEW - Portlaoise red-hot favourites in championship opener with Ballyfin Gaels

Portlaoise and Ballyfin Gaels meet at 6pm this Saturday.

The reigning Laois SFC Champions begin the defence of their title this Saturday evening, as they take on Ballyfin Gaels.

As you can probably guess by the odds listed below, this one is fairly open-and-shut. Portlaoise have produced some scintillating football this year, and after mixed results towards the end of the league, Malachy McNulty will have them primed for another tilt at the Laois SFC this year.

Ballyfin Gaels, meanwhile, will be missing Sean Moore, who has been in America for the summer. Shorn of their leading attacking light, it's hard to see them producing enough scores to make this competitive.

As we have seen with Portlaoise on a few occasions in the league this year, they can be absolutely ruthless. They pulverised both Stradbally and Ballylinan when the teams met, and there is a general fear that something similar could happen here.

Ballyfin Gaels are a remarkable outfit, fielding at senior in both codes is remarkable achievement for a setup based out of a small rural club. Their season won't be defined by what happens against Portlaoise, and as we have seen against Emo and Stradbally in recent seasons, they are more than capable of landing a knock-out blow against more lauded opposition.

On this occasion, however, it's hard to see that happening, and if it did, it would probably be the biggest shock in recent Laois SFC history. 

This looks like being a one-sided affair, and anything other than that would be a surprise.

Teams (As Listed in Match Programme)

PORTLAOISE: Graham Brody; David Holland, David Seale, Gary Saunders; Chris Finn, Gareth Dillon, Colin Finn; Kieran Lillis, Ciaran McEvoy; Ricky Maher, Conor Boyle, Benny Carroll; Paul Cahillane, Brian McCormack, Scott Lawless.

BALLYFIN GAELS: Robbie Foran; Barry Roche, Shane Farrell, Richie Downey; Darragh Connolly, George Lanham, Ciaran Fingleton; Nick Cosgrove, Ricky Quillinan; Davy Connolly, James Moore, Dan Molloy; Luke Kerr, Louis Duff, John Lowry. 

Throw-in: 6pm

Referee: Tomás Moore

Odds: Portlaoise 1/50, Ballyfin Gaels 10/1, Draw 25/1

Verdict: Portlaoise