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“I think it’s on a knife edge, it’s a 50/50 game”

Shane, Michael and Laois manager Willie Maher preview the Joe McDonagh cup final between Offaly and Carlow

Shane, Michael and Laois manager Willie Maher preview the Joe McDonagh cup final between Offaly and Carlow.

Willie Maher is familiar with this year’s finalists having managed Laois throughout the 2023 Joe McDonagh Cup campaign.

Offaly put out a much-changed in the final round of group games against Carlow as their place in the final was already secured, which was of huge benefit to their opponents who needed victory to join them.

It meant that Laois and Kerry, who were also playing in the final round and needed Carlow to slip up, quickly found themselves out of the picture.

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“I think it will be a very close game,” says Maher of the final.

“We were very disappointed that Offaly put out a second-string team but ultimately they earned the right to do that — 100%, it’s okay for them.

“It will be difficult to analyse from that match. Carlow have Chris Nolan, Marty Kavanagh, James Doyle – three top-class inter-county players.

“On the other side, Offaly have a serious player at full-back in CIaran Burke, the Sampsons (Killian and Jason) are really good players, Eoghan Cahill is really efficient upfront, and David Nally, Cillian Kiely — they have a lot of quality players.

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“So I think this is on a knife edge and it’s genuinely a 50-50 game. What an experience for those guys going to Croke Park this weekend.”

Round 1: Kerry 1-26 Down 1-14; Carlow 5-23 Kildare 0-19; Offaly 3-19 Laois 1-22.
Round 2: April 16: Laois 7-24 Down 0-14; Offaly 2-22 Kildare 3-11; Kerry 0-21 Carlow 0-21.
Round 3: April 22: Kerry 1-17 Kildare 0-14; Carlow 1-22 Laois 1-22; Offaly 1-26 Down 1-15.
Round 4: May 6/7: Offaly 1-24 Kerry 0-16; Laois 1-23 Kildare 0-11; Carlow 6-23 Down 0-28.
Round 5: May 13: Down 1-27 Kildare 3-13; Carlow 1-29 Offaly 0-14; Laois 4-23 Kerry 0-21

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