Joe Fitzpatrick in action for Rathdowney-Errill in the SHC against Abbeyleix. Pic: Denis Byrne.
Having turned in an exhibition of point-scoring in their victory over Castletown in their final group game, Rathdowney-Errill will be hoping to strike a similar vein of form this Sunday afternoon.
Having scored 4-26 on that occasion, with 4-21 of it coming from play, Rathdowney-Errill certainly made the most of an insipid display from Castletown Gaels.
Like many teams in coming out of the group stages, however, question marks remain over Rathdowney-Errill. They rallied to claim a draw with Clough-Ballacolla in the opening game, were awful in the first half against Camross but superb after the break, and then steamrolled Castletown Gaels.
Having missed Ross King for the earlier games, having him back for a push in the knockout stages will be a major boost, obviously, and his stint in the USA doesn't seem to have affected him unduly, if the Castletown game is anything to go by.
Abbeyleix, meanwhile, look vulnerable. They have improved since their opening round loss to Ballinakill, which saw them go over half the game without a score from play, but they lost to Borris-Kilcotton and then just about managed to hold off Ballyfin Gaels to avoid a relegation playoff.
None of that would fill you with hope going into a game where you'll meet a forward line containing Ross King, Mark Kavanagh, Tadgh Dowling and Paddy Purcell.
It has been a poor year for Abbeyleix overall, starting with the league and following through to the championship. Much of their success last year was built on the incredible scoring feats of Eoin Reilly, but his move to the Middle East has deprived them of a key player.
He returned for the group stages of the championship, but was understandably low on match practice and made little impact until the Ballyfin game, when he scored 1-4. His participation this weekend is also up for question, as he is due to return to the Middle East soon, and may not be available for this Sunday.
Eoghan Fennelly has tried to fill the void in Reilly's absence, and done it well to be fair to him, but there just doesn't look like there's enough scores from play going to come for Abbeyleix in this one.
Rathdowney-Errill won't find Abbeyleix as insipid an opponent as Castletown Gaels were, but it's hard to see them being stopped either. With James Ryan and Shane Dollard showing a scoring touch last time out, Rathdowney-Errill have things going their way at the moment. Players are in form and a good solid display here should be enough.
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