Monday 23 October 2017

Rainbow sees red at 'late' call

Laois v Carlow, Dr Cullen Park, 7.45,

QUALIFIER RD 1

Laois v Carlow, Dr Cullen Park, 7.45,

F Kelly (Longford)

ANTHONY Rainbow insists that the opposition, not the unprecedented timing, is all that is important in tonight's first football qualifier of the year, WRITES Cliona Foley.

Controversy has surrounded the GAA's decision to fix this historic first Friday night championship game, and the Carlow boss admitted the timing was not helpful.

"Only giving us 10 days' notice certainly wasn't ideal, for either the players, the management or the organisers," he said.

"If they really wanted to introduce Friday night games there should have been some consultation and much more forewarning than that.

"But we can't do anything about it so all our energies just have to be focused on who we're playing," he said of a game which pits Carlow against their neighbours, who beat them 1-10 to 0-9 at this stage last year.

This is 'Redemption Day' for both sides. Carlow didn't put up much of a fight when they bowed out to Westmeath five weeks ago (3-15 to 1-10) but Laois' 10-point mauling by Louth was particularly shocking.

Brendan Quigley, Kevin Meaney and Gary Walsh have since departed to America and Denis Booth's injury is another big blow before a game that will probably decide Justin McNulty's future as Laois manager.

Carlow have been less severely hit but Derek Hayden has been dropped off the panel, centre-back Shane Redmond (groin) is a serious injury doubt and centre-back Shane Mernagh has also been carrying a niggle.

Laois needed MJ Tierney to come in and score a late 0-3 (2f) to secure this tie a year ago. A derby was the last thing they needed but their hurlers' success this summer could prove a blessing now, providing a big incentive to reclaim their reputation.

Verdict: Laois

LAOIS – E Culliton; P Begley, M Timmons, P O'Leary; D Strong, K Lillis, P McMahon; J O'Loughlin, P Clancy; B Sheehan, C Meredith, C Begley; R Munnelly, D Kingston, D Conway.

Irish Independent

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