Postponed last weekend due to a bereavement in the family of one of the Portlaoise players, the Leinster Club Senior Football Championship quarter-final is refixed for Pearse Park on Sunday next (throw-in 2.30pm) and can Longford Slashers spring a surprise win?
Providing the local GAA followers come out to support the county champions, home advantage is a definite plus and the emphatic manner in which Slashers really opened up to rattle a poor Rathnew outfit in the first round (winning by the wide margin of 12 points) suggests that Denis Connerton’s experienced side will put it up to Portlaoise.
That’s exactly what Killoe done in the semi-final at O’Moore Park last year before eventually going down by the narrow margin of three points and there is a growing belief that Slashers are capable of causing an upset if they perform to their full potential.
While Portlaoise won the Laois SF Championship title for a magnificent seventh year in a row this season, they had to battle extremely hard to get the better of the Donie Kingston inspired Arles-Killeen who led by four points in the early stages of the second half.
But Portlaoise gradually got on top to emerge victorious by 2-8 to 1-8 in the finish and their sights are now firmly set on regaining the coveted Leinster crown they last captured in 2009, even though they no longer have the services of their powerful Tipperary midfielder Hugh Coghlan who has left the club.
But all the other 14 players that started against Killoe last year are still there in a strong squad, although the long serving Kevin Fitzpatrick and towering midfielder Adrian Kelly did not start in the recent county final.
Fitzpatrick was brought on in the 41st minute and made an immediate impact to score a game-changing goal and with other quality players in Brian Mulligan, Cahir Healy, Conor Boyle, Kieran Lillis, Craig Rogers, Paul Cahillane and Brian McCormack it must be said that Portlaoise will prove difficult to stop in their quest to move a step closer to a record 8th Leinster Club senior football title.