Leinster Champions Laois are facing into a Leinster final

Leinster Champions Laois are facing into a Leinster final

Leinster Champions Laois are facing into a Leinster final with a sudden managerial change forced upon them last week.

The blow comes as Laois are gunning for their third Leinster title in a row. They would be strong favourites for many against Dublin this weekend, but senior manager, John Courtney, left Ireland last Saturday to begin a tour of duty in Kosovo with the Defence Forces.

The team was given just one week warning as Courtney informed them of his departure following their semi final victory over Kildare. Courtney's position has been filled by physical trainer, Jack Griffin.

“Jack has been training with us since the beginning of the year, so we know him well and he's familiar with the team,” said Laois captain Bernie Deegan. “John's news was certainly unexpected, but we're confident that it will be a smooth transition.”

Neither Laois nor Dublin have any injury worries going into the Leinster decider. The Jackies inflicted a surprise defeat on All-Ireland champions Cork in the league and are dark horses for many observers this year. Under normal circumstances, Laois would be considered a tough prospect ready to capitalise if Dublin show the same weaknesses as they did in their semi final victory over Meath.

All-Ireland Champions Cork, meanwhile, have a number of slight injury concerns as they prepare for their first outing of the current campaign on Saturday. The Rebelettes commence their bid for a fourth All-Ireland title in a row against rivals Kerry in the Munster Senior final at Pairc ui Rinn in the other big match of the weekend.

Kerry will have a full squad of players to pick from although changes from the team that bore the 6-13 to 2-10 defeat by Cork in the Suzuki NFL Division 1 final can be expected according to Kerry captain, Geraldine O'Shea.

“The team hasn't been picked yet, but I'd say there will be a few changes from the team that played in the league final. A few people have really come on strong since then and they should be given a chance on Saturday.

“We really felt we let ourselves down in the League Final. Cork are the best team in the country and have set the bar in ladies football but we honestly feel we can put it up to them if we give it our best. The first ten minutes will be crucial, that's when Cork really got on top of us the last day. We'll have to start well if we have any chance at all.”

Kerry have not played a competitive match in nine weeks, since their comprehensive victory over Waterford in the Munster semi final. But Cork are in a similar position, having not played competitively since that power-packed performance in the league final on May 4th.

“It will be tough enough after such a large gap,” said O'Shea's Cork counterpart, Angela Walsh. “We've played a few challenge matches but they were minor enough. The excitement of playing our first competitive match in a while will focus us and training's been going well. We have one or two slight injury concerns, but hopefully they will have ironed themselves out by Saturday.”

The winners of the provincial finals will go straight through to the All-Ireland quarter finals, while the losers will go into a draw for the second round of qualifiers, which already includes provincial losers Sligo and Tyrone.
Saturday, 12th July, 2008
TG4 Munster Senior Championship Final
Cork v Kerry, Pairc ui Rinn, 3.00pm, (K. Delahunty)

Sunday, 13th July, 2008
TG4 Leinster Senior Championship Final
Laois v Dublin, Dr. Cullen Park, 3.45pm, (C. Groome)

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