Laois and Wicklow go head-to-head in the Leinster Under-21 Football Championship Quarter-Final in Portlaoise on Wednesday night.
Laois overcame Offaly in their last outing by the minimum, winning a closely-contested affair on a scoreline of 3-11 to 2-13. Evan O’ Carroll was the hero, scoring two goals and will start at corner forward against Wicklow on Wednesday night. Kevin McGrath scored 1-1 during the win, while Evan Costello notched four frees.
Laois have been playing an exciting and free-flowing brand of football under the tutelage of Tony Maher. His charges scored a whopping 3-5 from play in the win over Offaly and will be hoping for more of the same against Wicklow. Laois lost out to Dublin at the quarter-final stage of the 2012 competition, but will be confident of progressing against on Wednesday.
Wicklow received a bye into the quarter-finals and will be fully focused on the challenge they face. The county has shown some promise at under-age level in recent times, but struggled to turn it into U-21 success. Ronnie Philips and his management team have been preparing for weeks in anticipation of the quarter-final.
Wicklow were knocked out by Carlow in the preliminary round of last year’s competition and will be hoping to get a big win under their belts tonight.
Tony Maher has made two changes to his Laois team for Wednesday’s clash, with Adam Campion and Will Young replacing Mark Dowling and Kieran Lennon.
Laois (v Wicklow): Graham Brody; Adam Campion, Mark O’Halloran, Stephen Attride; Will Young, Padraig McEvoy, Dan Dunne; Matthew Campion, Adam Ryan; Alan Farrell, Liam McGovern, Kevin McGrath; Paul Kingston, Evan Costello, Evan O’Carroll.
Wicklow have no major injury concerns ahead of Wednesday’s game and are yet to reveal their starting fifteen. However, this is the predicted line-up:
Wicklow (v Laois): P.Miley(VALLEYMOUNT),J.Kelly(DUNLAVIN), M.O’Brien(ANNACURRA), J.Snell(RATHNEW), R.O’Brien(RATHNEW), D.Woods(EIRE OG), A.Murphy(BRAY), S.Hogan(TINAHELY), K.Dempsey(BARNDARRIG), J.Henderson(BRAY) , T.Smith(RATHNEW), P.O’Rourke(TINAHELY), B.McCrea(CARNEW), C.McGraynor(AVONDALE), P.Murphy(RATHNEW).
Players to Watch
Evan O’ Carroll scored two good goals against Offaly in the preliminary round. He will be Laois’ main attacking threat and starts at corner forward.
Conor McGraynor is a quality forward and has been proving his worth in the Wicklow senior set-up. If the under-dogs are to cause an upset, McGraynor will undoubtedly be central to the victory.
Home advantage is a huge advantage and Laois should progress to the semi-finals. They are 4/9 to beat Wicklow with Boylesports.com.