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PREVIEW: Cavan take on Laois in crunch battle

Sunday, 27th March, 2016 2:31pm
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Paul Fitzpatrick

Will the real Laois please stand up? The O'Moore men have been one of the most 'hot and cold' teams in the land in recent years and, on their best form, have the potential to cause serious problems for the home side tonight.

Cavan, for their part, are just 140 minutes away from a return to the top flight of league football after turning their campaign around.

After narrow defeats to Tyrone (two points) and Derry (one point), Cavan looked set to be drawn into a relegation battle but they bounced back in style to see off Meath away, Armagh at home and Fermanagh away to move into second place in the league table.

Results went their way last Sunday week when Derry and Galway respectively drew which means Cavan’s destiny is now in their own hands. Beat Laois and avoid defeat against Galway and they will go up along with Tyrone, who have already secured their passage back to Division 1.

Cavan manager Terry Hyland will have been heartened by the performances of his squad in club action last weekend. Jack Brady, who hasn’t nailed down a starting place but has featured regularly from the bench, scored 1-4 from play for Ramor against Kingscourt, with another forward, Enda O’Reilly, also landing 0-10 for Mullahoran in their surprise home loss to Cootehill.

Martin Reilly also impressed for Killygarry against Bailieborough, with Cian Mackey – usually a cert but who has lost his starting place in recent weeks - outstanding for Castlerahan against Lacken.

Laois’s form has been up and down in recent seasons. Last year, Cavan dismantled them in O’Moore Park, winning by 0-17 to 2-6 having been eight points up midway through the second half.

Donie Kingston, who scored two goals on that occasion, is their go-to man in attack, although the emergence of Evan O’Carroll, who turned in a magnificent performance off the bench in their recent draw with Derry, gives them more options in that sector.

There is plenty of experience and proven quality in their squad, including the likes of Colm Begley and towering duo John O’Loughlin and Brendan Quigley, and if they click, they will be a tough nut to crack, especially considering that Cavan’s home form has not been solid in recent seasons.

The bookmakers expect Cavan to get the job done and have installed them at 4/9, with Laois at 9/4 for the upset. Cavan’s fate is now in their own hands and defeat would undo much of the good work of recent weeks as well as stalling the considerable momentum the team has now built up.

This is an absolutely huge game for both counties, with the visitors battling at the other end of the table, but if Cavan do not take their eye off the ball, they should have enough about them to go one step closer to promotion, especially if the likes of David Givney, Seanie Johnston and Gearoid McKiernan continue their fine recent form.

The defence has been rock solid of late, with Padraig Faulkner and Jason McLoughlin standing out as well as goalkeeper Ray Galligan and they will not be expected to cough up 1-22 as Derry did, either.

Laois conceded five goals on that occasion which will be encouraging for Cavan, who have greatly improved when it comes to finding the net.

This could well be very close and Laois could well hit form - if they do, Cavan will be stretched but they should have enough about them to get the job done.

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