Offaly U21 face Laois in Netwatch Cullen Park tonight
Offaly will need to get to grips with Laois talisman Sean Moore if they are to prevail in tonight's U21 Leinster Football Championship semi-final at Netwatch Cullen Park, Carlow, at 7.30pm.
Moore laid down a personal marker when he was in inspired form, recording a personal tally of 1-08, during his county's 2-13 to 1-08 victory over Louth last Wednesday evening, March 8. Offaly enter this game after getting the better of Wexford last week in a tense affair in tough conditions at Gracefield, running out 1-06 to 0-06 winners in their quarter-final.
Offaly will need the likes of Clint Horan, David Dempsey and Colm Doyle in the full-back line to get a handle on Sean Moore, who has been named at full-forward for the Laois men. They will also need a big performance from their own full-forward, Rhode's Ruairi McNamee, who last week was hailed by his manager as "a very smart, intelligent player."
Against Wexford, with conditions restricting flowing football, he was moved from full-forward to midfield in the second half and was able to exert his influence well from out the field. "When we brought him out, his work on and off the ball was exceptional," Offaly manager James Stewart said.
Conditions tonight should be beautiful for football, given the bright and dry forecast, and that means Sean Moore will get more opportunity to win clean ball for Laois inside. Jordan Hayes is capable of taking a big part in the game tonight for Offaly from midfield and the Edenderry man has the ability to feed his forwards well, something that will be crucial for Offaly.
The bookies can hardly separate these two, but Laois do enter the contest as slight 5/6 favourites, while Offaly can be backed at 5/4.
In the other semi-final, favourites Dublin go up against Longford after their respective quarter-final victories last week. Dublin beat Westmeath 2-14 to 0-06, while Longford surprised Kildare, beating the Lillies 2-06 to 0-10.
VERDICT: Offaly to meet Dublin in the final with a narrow victory tonight.
PREDICTION: Offaly 1-12 Laois 1-10
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