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01 Oct 2022

Will sparks fly when rivals clash in the Laois GAA senior football semi-finals?

Leinster Express / Laois Live predictions

Rivals will clash and sparks will fly in this weekends Laois Senior football semi finals. Read our predictions for the two big games of the weekend

Neighbours O'Dempseys from Killenard and Portarlington could meet in final

After all the traders at the ploughing have packed up their tents, there will still be the small matter of the Laois GAA senior football semi-finals. 

First up you have a tasty clash between O'Dempsey's and Courtwood.

O'Dempseys were quite impressive when beating league champions St Joseph's. That day they were without the dangerous full forward Eoin Finaly and still racked up 3-10 in the six points win. Their only loss of this year's championship came against neighbours and rivals Portarlington. They pushed the county champions very close that day and were probably a little bit unlucky to come out the wrong side of it. They have looked solid in defence throughout and the three Finlays in the forwards are  huge assets

Coutwood conquered one of the favourites for the championship Graiguecullen. Not to take away from that victory but the slippery conditions on the day certainly were a huge factor. Gariguecullen and Laois goalkeeper Danny Bolger appeared to get his boot choice wrong on the day as he slipped numerous times on kick outs and frees.

There was a five minute period with 15 minutes to go when Graiguecullen lost four of their own kicks outs and Courtwood took full advantage getting a score out of all of them and it led to a crucial swing in momentum. They can probably count themselves a little bit lucky to be at this stage but they do come into the game with nothing to lose 

Prediction: O'Dempsey's should have enough to come through this and reach their first final since 2018

The second semi-final on Sunday is a repeat of last year's final. Big town foes Portarlington and Portlaoise will meet once again but we can only see one side coming out on top here. 

Since their disappointing end to the league, The county champions have really impressed in the championship. The Ballyroan team that they beat last time out were probably a little bit underrated this year and are ones to look out for in the 2023 championship.

Played after the Courtwood game, Portarlington had enough class to come through without really showing their full capabilities. Their work rate and high intensity in pressurising the opposition high up the pitch have been really impressive. Rhioghan Murphy, the wing forward, has been crucial in that sense but everyone has bought into that style of play. At this point in time, they certainly look like worthy favourites for the championship outright. 

As readers will know, I have not been a fan of Portlaoise's efforts this year. They have been slow and lethargic going forward. There seemed to be no drive to break down even the weakest of defences on the counter. They continue to play a very negative style of football that only is beneficial when you are fast on the break. They improved slightly last time out against Clonaslee but by the time the second half came around they had resorted back to their old ways.

Despite all this, they find themselves in a semi-final. Ricky Maher has been the one bright spot for them and has gotten crucial scores that were certainly vital in getting them to this stage. Look it, anything can happen on the day and maybe Portlaoise will surprise us and pull it out of the bag, but I just can't see it.  

Prediction: Portarlington to win by 6 plus points. 

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