Laois need stars to deliver to upset Kilkenny

Laois may have accounted for initial favourites Dublin in the first round, but very few outside their own camp are giving them any chance of overcoming Kilkenny.

Although initially fixed for Nowlan Park, the game was switched to O’Moore Park after Kilkenny agreed to give up home advantage.

That represents a significant boost to a Laois side that is chasing the county’s first win at this level since 1983.

They only had a point to spare over Carlow in the semi-final but that game was all about the result, and not wasting the defeat of Dublin. This grade has come as a welcome release from senior hell for the likes of Neil Foyle, Stephen Maher and Willie Dunphy. They will need to perform if there is to be an upset.

Kilkenny have their only senior stars though, with Cillian Buckley and Richie Doyle having played prominent roles in the Division 1 league final success earlier in the season.

They conceded four goals to Wexford in the semi-final but still had 11 points to spare and are sure to improve for what was their first tie of the campaign.

John Power — brother of Richie — comes into the side in place of Cathal Kenny, and is part of what looks a lethal full-forward line, with Walter Walsh and Ger Aylward in each corner.

Laois have also made one change, with Bill Duggan replacing John Finane in defence.

KILKENNY: D Walsh; J Corcoran, W Phelan, B Kennedy; L Harney, R Doyle, J Lyng; G Brennan, O Walsh; K Kelly, P Walsh, C Buckley; W Walsh, J Power, G Aylward. Subs: R Reid, O McGrath, C Kenny, I Duggan, P O’Carroll, M Gaffney, P Buggy, J Cassin, M Brennan, J Gannon

LAOIS: E Fleming; P Flynn, G Burke, A Phelan; J Fitzpatrick, B Duggan, J Unwin; D Freeman, B Dunne; W Dunphy, P Lawlor, S Maher; B Reddin, N Foyle, D King.

Dublin v Kildare, Leinster MFC semi-final, Newbridge, 7.30pm

Dublin and Kildare have enjoyed a wonderful rivalry at minor level since taking the Leinster final to a replay in 2009.

Dublin came out on top that time but lost two and drew two against their neighbours the following season, before the multi-talented Lilies blew up in the semi-final, just three days after finally overcoming the Blues.

Last year was a ‘no contest’, as Dublin steamrollered Kildare before going on to claim another provincial title.

Dessie Farrell is in charge of the Metropolitans once again and having blown a winning position in last year’s All-Ireland, they will not want for motivation.

Bryan Murphy has been in situ with Kildare for the past four seasons, continuing the former dual Cork minor’s massive contribution to the county since transferring from Bishopstown to Clane.

Dublin have made two changes in defence, with Emile Mullan and Ross McGowan given the nod, while Farrell will be delighted that his dual contingent came through the hurlers’ Leinster final success on Sunday.

Of those, Conor McHugh will start at right corner-forward and along with Shane Cunningham and David Campbell, will represent a significant danger to the Kildare rearguard.

DUBLIN: L Molloy; E Mullan, D Byrne, R McGowan, G Burke, C Mulally, M Mac Donnacha; S Cunningham, S Carthy; R Gaughan, S Cunningham, N Walsh; C McHugh, D Campbell, N Scully. Subs: C Ferris, B Bentley, T Quinn, E Fletcher, M Cahillan, E Lowndes, C Costello, A Rogers, J Fitzgibbon, C Flynn, D Gormley

KILDARE: TBA.

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