Laois face Armagh in the opening game of the NFL Division 2 this Saturday at 7pm in O’Moore Park Portlaoise.
Both these sides were relegated from division one of the league last year and will be hoping to gain promotion at the first attempt, making this game a vital clash for both sides.
Laois manager Justin Mc Nulty is up against his home county in this clash. Orchard county manager Paul Grimley will be hoping to record an away victory to gain momentum for the rest of the league campaign.
Laois lost their opening Bord Na Mona O’Byrne cup match at the hands of near neighbours Offaly before recording wins over Westmeath and Athlone IT with veteran midfielder Padraig Clancy featuring prominently for Laois.
Armagh had a poor Power NI Dr Mc Kenna cup campaign, losing both group games at the hands of Cavan and Down respectively, although both sides had an experimental look.
Donie Kingston returns for Laois following last year’s self imposed exile. The O’Moore County are at full strength apart and have a full panel to pick from apart from Conor Meredith who misses out through injury.
Laois: Eoin Culliton; Cahir Healy, Kevin Meaney, Peter O’Leary; Darren Strong, John O’Loughlin, Conor Boyle; Brendan Quigley, Colm Begley; Ross Munnelly, Gary Walsh, Billy Sheehan; Donie Kingston, Padraig Clancy, Colm Kelly.
Paul Grimley is without the Crossmaglen contingent for this clash as they prepare for their club All Ireland semi final on February 16th. Experienced pair Brendan Donaghy and Charlie Vernon are also missing for Armagh.
Armagh: Philip McAvoy; Mark Shields, James Donnelly, Gary McCooey; Kevin Dyas, Ciaran McKeever, Finnian Moriarty; Kieran Toner, James Lavery; Caolan Rafferty, Aidan Forker, Ethan Rafferty; Gavin McParland, Stefan Forker, Brian Mallon.
Players to watch
Laois – John O’Loughlin
O’Loughlin marked himself out as one of the best centre backs in the country last year during Laois’ run in the All Ireland qualifier series, bringing much needed physicality to the heart of the O’Moore county defence.
Armagh – Ciaran Mc Keever
Mc Keever is another top quality centre back who has a major influence on Armagh proceedings. Mc Keever can struggle with ill discipline at times, and was sent off in last year’s match with Laois following a tunnel clash with Billy Sheehan.