The Laois Minor football team and manager Donncha Phelan prior to the Westmeath game in Round 2. Photo: Alf Harvey
The Laois Minor football manager Donncha Phelan has announced his starting team to take on Longford in Round 3 of the Leinster Championship on Saturday evening.
Laois opened their campaign away to Carlow, where a last-gasp free from Ballyroan Abbey's Brian Whelan in the sixth minute of injury-time salvaged a draw for the O'Moore men in Carlow IT. They then followed up with a stunning comeback against Westmeath in O'Moore Park last week.
Phelan's men found themselves seven points down at half-time after an underwhelming first-half display where Westmeath raided the Laois defence for 1-5 in the opening seven minutes, in comparison to Laois's solitary point, but a brilliant individual goal from PJ Ward gave Laois a lifeline five minutes after the restart.
Trailing by five points heading into the final quarter, an amazing strike from Oisin Hooney into the top-corner and a composed penalty from Brian Whelan saw Laois take the lead for the very first time with eight minutes to go. Despite how much action was packed into the remaining minutes with Westmeath having two goals disallowed and numerous crucial interceptions and blocks, Whelan's penalty would ultimately be the final score of the game as Laois held out for a stunning win.
If Laois can leave Pearse Park with a win under their belt they will top the group and head into the semi-finals, but a loss will see them out of the competition as Westmeath secured a 4-12 to 0-8 victory over Carlow on Wednesday night, assuring them of a quarter-final place at the minimum.
Phelan has named three changes to the team that defeated Westmeath last week with Courtwood's Nathan Little and Ballyroan Abbey's Shaun Fitzpatrick slotting into the corner-back positions in place of Orrie Doran and Jamie Kelly, while the final change sees Emo's Paddy Hosey come in for the injured Kevin Swayne.
Swayne's absence in midfield has seen Stradbally's Conor Goode move from full-forward to the middle of the park. Rioghan Murphy moves in to full-forward with Ballyroan Abbey's Brian Whelan switching to centre-forward, leaving Paddy Hosey to slot into the corner.
Team: Michael O’Connell (Portlaoise); Shaun Fitzpatrick (Ballyroan Abbey), Sean Greene (Emo), Nathan Little (Courtwood); Simon Fingleton (Park-Ratheniska), Eddie Critchley (Portlaoise), Mark Keogh (Spink); Ben Brennan (Portlaoise), Conor Goode (Stradbally); Oisin Hooney (St Joseph’s), Brian Whelan (Ballyroan-Abbey), PJ Ward (Portarlington); Colin Dunne (Arles-Killeen), Rioghan Murphy (Portarlington), Paddy Hosey (Emo).