Laois and Westmeath square up again

Laois and Westmeath meet again today to decide this year's Leinster final at Croke Park, after a stalemate last week ensured a replay.

Laois and Westmeath meet again today to decide this year's Leinster final at Croke Park, after a stalemate last week ensured a replay.

Mick O'Dwyer's side were dealt an injury blow last night as captain Chris Conway was ruled out after undergoing surgery to remove his appendix.

The Arles Kilcruise clubman, who also missed last year's provincial win through injury, will be out of action for several weeks.

In unenforced changes, O'Dwyer has dropped full-back Colm Byrne and last year's captain Ian Fitzgerald.

The former Kerry manager can consider himself lucky that his side did not relinquish their trophy last week, as Paidi Ó Sé's Westmeath looked set to clinch their first ever provincial crown. However, Laois did not give up and lived to fight another day.

Westmeath All Star Rory O'Connell, who secured a High Court injunction to enable him to take part in the final, turned the match on his introduction as a substitute last week and has retained his place in the only change for the Lakes County.

The Athlone man was hit with a 12-week ban for allegedly stamping on Offaly's Pascal Kelleghan in their Leinster championship game, and went to the High Court after his appeals were turned down by the GAC and the Management Committee.

Star forward Dessie Dolan and defenders Michael Ennis and Derek Heavin picked up knocks but have been given the green light to play.

Ó Sé is hoping to bring Westmeath their first piece of senior silverware, but O'Dwyer is preparing to thwart his bid and see his charges retain their title for the first time since the 1930s.

LAOIS (SF v Westmeath): F Byron; A Fennelly, J Higgins, P McDonald; D Rooney, T Kelly, K Fitzpatrick; P Clancy, N Garvan; R Munnelly, M Lawlor, AN Other; B McDonald, G Kavanagh, C Parkinson.

WESTMEATH (SF v Laois): G Connaughton; J Davitt, D O’Donoghue, J Keane; M Ennis, D Healy, D Heavin; R O’Connell, D O’Shaughnessy; B Morley, P Conway, F Wilson; A Mangan, D Glennon, D Dolan.

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