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'There seems to be great energy towards Carlow - we’re trying to build our own little bit'

The O’Moore men are aiming for back-to-back National League promotions.

Laois manager John Sugrue.
Laois manager John Sugrue.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

FOR ALL THE progress Carlow footballers have made in recent years, Laois remain a riddle they are yet to work out.

Turlough O’Brien’s charges get another chance to solve the puzzle in Portlaoise tomorrow, where a win would carry more impact than just allowing them to fend off an immediate drop back to Division Four.

Victory would all but scrap Laois’ back-to-back promotion hopes, too, and taste sweet given their neighbourhood, but Carlow also have old scores to settle, last year’s in particular.

Laois boss John Sugrue thrice outwitted his opposite number in 2018, including in the Leinster Championship semi-final.

Nevertheless there has been a romance — “an energy”, as Sugrue refers to it — surrounding Carlow’s rise to relative prominence that Gaels countrywide have latched on to. Indeed, it’s a feeling that the Laois manager wants to replicate in his own county.

“Carlow seem to have a very good thing going down there at the moment,” Sugrue tells The42. 

“Across the GAA there seems to be great energy towards Carlow and we’re trying to build our own little bit of energy.

John O'Loughlin and Mark Timmons celebrate after the game Laois' Mark Timmons (3) and John O'Loughlin celebrate last year's Leinster semi-final win over Carlow at Croke Park. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

“They’re close neighbours of ours and there has been a good rivalry built up between us over the last couple of years, so it’s a case of trying to see who, at this moment in time, has the little bit of a nudge on the other one.”

The O’Moore men enter the league’s final round as one of five teams still in the hunt for a top-two place in Division Three and know a victory over their old foes would put them in a strong position.

Indeed, a win would move them on to 10 points and may even be enough to ensure a second consecutive promotion despite Louth and Westmeath – other contenders – having a game in hand.

And, given the nature of the teams’ rivalry, a victory could also edge Carlow towards the drop, if it were to accompany a win for Offaly against Sligo.

“Carlow are formidable. They only lost by a point to Down last weekend and Down are the form team in the division,” Sugrue adds.

“They’ve beaten Louth and drawn with Westmeath and they’re practically the three top teams in the division.

“[But] the only hope we have [of going up] is by winning this game.

We’ve been very much up and down throughout this league and it’s been quite frustrating in that we haven’t been consistent at all.

“But pretty much every side apart from Sligo has something to play for this weekend. It’s been one of those divisions that has been quite spread out in terms of teams taking points off each other.

“I think there are probably four teams who can realistically eye promotion and two teams battling to see who goes down with Sligo.

“Six out of eight teams still having something to play for means this weekend carries an awful lot of importance across the board.”

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