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Meath can set-up appetising Dublin duel at headquarters.

Byline: Con O'Meara

LAOIS haven't lost their Leinster opener since 2000, but they meet a Meath side that blew off their championship cobwebs in impressive fashion last month. Sean Dempsey will have taken heart from the porous nature of the Royal defence in that outing. Niall McNamee wreaked havoc that day and, but for some shocking free-taking, Offaly would have been much closer. Laois won't be so wasteful and have a reliable free-taker in Michael John Tierney. Donie Kingston is the likely hero if Laois are going to carry on their impressive early championship record. The big full-forward is Laois' answer to Michael Murphy. He took Graham Canty for 2-2 in Laois' two-point loss in a recent challenge. Canty was just back from injury but Kingston's eye for goal has championship form; he bagged one against Longford and Down in 2008. 2009 was an exam year but with his Leaving Cert out of the way, Kingston can focus on more important matters again this summer. Pauric Clancy is rumoured to be set to form a twin-towers arrangement with Kingston, while MJ Tierney will sweep. Former Celtic player, Paul Cahillane may also play this role at some stage.

Another plus for Laois is the return of Colm Begley from Aussie Rules. Laois had a solid league campaign and the vibes are that they're ready to forget the disaster that championship 2009; after beating Louth, they tamely went out on single digit scores to Kildare (2- 18 to 0-9) and Down (2-9 to 0- 7). Recent challenge match wins over Monaghan and Louth have the Laois set-up quietly confident of a shock on Sunday. To do so they'll have to outscore a Meath side with an array of forward talent. Shane O'Rourke, Joe Sheridan, Stephen Bray and Cian Ward can keep the white flag busy. Meath's lack of goal-scoring was commented on after their defeat of Offaly. This paper's top tipster pointed this out on RTE after the Offaly game, lamenting his home county's inability to finish sides off.

This year's league backs up this line of enquiry with Meath failing to net in four of their seven matches. However, against Offaly Meath did score one, had a perfectly good goal disallowed and created another gilt-edged chance. They also managed to score goals in six of their seven championship games last year. Laois have been shy on that front too in 2010, also failing to goal in four of their seven Division 2 encounters. With an in-form Kingston taking on Meath's weak back-line, and the likelihood that Meath are stung by the questioning of their goal- scoring abilities, goals could be on the menu. At Pairc Tailteann, Meath scraped home by one point (0-13 to 1-9). It's likely to be a tight affair again. Take Nigel Crawford and Mark Ward to provide a platform for their forward division to do their stuff.


Laois manager Sean Dempsey
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUIR
Date:Jun 11, 2010
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