THERE is a certain kind of team that, for reasons of a very unspecific nature, takes to qualifiers quickly and easily.
ALL-IRELAND SFC QUALIFIER ROUND 1
CARLOW v LAOIS
(Dr Cullen Park, Tonight, 7.30)
Kildare are the obvious example, but similarly, you wouldn't have put much of your hard-earned on Laois making it to the August Bank Holiday last year if you were in Pearse Park the day they lost to Longford.
Equally, Laois fans might suspect that they are staring into an abyss after the Louth defeat a couple of weeks back and, doubtless, defections to the US are never an encouraging sign of a team hell-bent on making amends. However, Paul Begley, Kieran Lillis, Pádraig Clancy, Billy Sheehan, Conor Meredith and David Conway – the changes to the team that lost to Louth – aren't what you would class as inexperienced or lacking championship substance.
And a year ago, Carlow almost pulled off an improbable win, only for Laois to harden up down the home straight in a victory which kickstarted their run to the All-Ireland quarter-final.
It's arguable, though, whether Carlow have improved any under Anthony Rainbow. League form was patchy, at best. Against Westmeath in their Leinster opener, they didn't stay up close and personal for too long. Tonight will be all about (besides the Friday night circus) just how quickly Laois have healed and but Carlow are exactly the sort of team that should facilitate the initial part of the process.
ODDS: Carlow 7/2, Draw 9/1, Laois 2/7
SHAUN MURPHY has been promoted to the Wexford team for tomorrow night's SHC qualifier clash at home to Carlow. The Oulart - The Ballagh clubman is named at midfield, with David Redmond dropping to the bench, Lee Chin starting at No 12 and Keith Rossiter back among the subs after recent injury.
WEXFORD (SH v Carlow): M Fanning; E Moore, T Waters, B Kenny; R Kehoe, M O'Regan, C Kenny; H Kehoe, S Murphy; J Guiney, G Sinnott, L Chin; P Morris, R Jacob, P Doran.