PREVIEW: Kerry Have The Ability To Overcome Laois Challenge

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Mike O’Halloran on a must-win game for Kerry in Austin Stack Park on Sunday when they take on Laois in the Leinster Hurling Championship Round Robin series…

Padraig Boyle grabs the ball before being fouled for a penalty during the league match in Tralee back in February. Photo by Dermot Crean

If Maurice Leahy is in Austin Stack Park on Sunday it will be 40 years to the day since he first played for Kerry on his return from Cork.

Maurice, who marked Christy Heffernan in Tralee in 1980 when Kerry drew with Kilkenny and also managed the team that day, knows more than most about the ups and downs, trials and tribulations, of Kerry hurling teams over the years.

After a huge down in the first round robin game against Meath, there followed a massive turnaround a week later in Mullingar when the team resiliently held on against Westmeath, winning by two points.

A defeat against Westmeath would have been a huge body blow to the ambitions of this panel of players especially after losing out in the Division 1B play off.

Continued below…


Next Sunday, Kerry will pit their wits again against Laois, a team they have come to know well in the last couple of seasons.

Kerry came from behind in the game in Tralee in Division 1B to edge out Laois and gain their only win in that division.

Laois had the upper hand in the play off game to decide who stayed in Division 1B in the marathon 100 minute, 50-score game in Portlaoise.

Kerry played most of that game with an extra man and were unable to overcome Laois, even though the width of the post denied them at the end.

Laois defeated Westmeath in their first game on the same day Kerry lost to Meath, Laois then went on to defeat Meath.

Kerry may be slight favourites given that they have home advantage and will also hope that they can put a couple of goals past Enda Rowland.

Laois have conceded over 20 goals in 2017, though admittedly Enda was not in goals for all those games.

Leigh Bergin has returned to full back and he will attempt to curb the influence of the Boyle brothers.

At the other end Willie Dunphy, Stephen Maher will pit themselves against Rory Horgan and teak tough Crotta man Sean Weir.

Another advantage may be the fact that Laois are a pretty young, inexperienced team, as Eamonn Kelly seeks to build for the future.

Kerry are more settled and probably a bit more experienced and if Padraigh Boyle is in goalscoring mode they have a great chance.

There are reports (unconfirmed) that there have been a couple of withdrawls from the panel recently and that may be a negative, but the group I witnessed training last week were a united, tuned bunch bursting their guts to be ready for the Laois challenge.

Let’s hope there is huge support for them in Tralee. Every voice helps.

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