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Preview: Weekend's Joe McDonagh Cup action

Jer Quinlan has impressed for Laois this year. Photo by Ben McShane/Sportsfile

Jer Quinlan has impressed for Laois this year. Photo by Ben McShane/Sportsfile

Saturday May 18

Laois v Down, Laois Hire O'Moore Park, 3pm

Laois have made an efficient start in the Joe McDonagh Cup, illustrated perfectly by the win over Kerry in Tralee.

Aaron Dunphy and Tomás Keyes landed vital scores in that victory for Willie Maher's team.

Down have collected three points from their games so far, including an entertaining draw against Westmeath.

Pearse Óg McCrickard and Tom McGrattan were in brilliant scoring form for Down in that tussle.

Laois: Enda Rowland; Ian Shanahan, Ryan Mullaney, Tom Cuddy; Liam O'Connell, Padraig Delaney, Fiachra C Fennell; Aidan Corby, Paddy Purcell; Aaron Dunphy, Jer Quinlan, David Dooley; Willie Dunphy, Mark Dowling, Tomás Keyes.

Subs: Cathal Dunne, Donnchadh Hartnett, Padraic Dunne, Lee Cleere, Cody Comerford, John Lennon, Ross King, Gearóid Lynch, Martin Phelan, James Duggan, Stephen Bergin.

Down: Stephen Keith; Matt Conlan, Barry Trainor, Conor Cassidy; Caolan Taggart, Ruairi McCrickard, Tom Murray; Donal Hughes, Liam Savage; Finn Turpin, Eoghan Sands, Pearse Óg McCrickard; Tom McGrattan, Daniel Toner, Daithi Sands.

Subs: Pearce Smyth, Phelim Savage, Aodhan Furlong, Cormac McAllister, Marc Fisher, Paul Sheehan, Oisín MacManus, James Dougan, Deaglan Mallon, Niall Milligan, Ben Christie.

Westmeath v Meath, TEG Cusack Park, 6pm

This is a crucial contest for the two counties occupying fifth and sixth place in the standings.

Westmeath did register a point when drawing with Down in Ballycran, a match in which Killian Doyle and David O'Reilly demonstrated their ability.

Meath have endured three losses so far, but know how valuable a victory would be against their neighbours.

Nicky Potterton struck 2-5 in the loss against Offaly, while Eamon Óg Ó Donnchadha and Tom Shine are other key figures for the Royals.

Westmeath: Noel Conaty; Conor Gaffney, Tommy Doyle, Johnny Bermingham; Darragh Egerton, Aonghus Clarke, Aaron Craig; Peter Clarke, Kevin Regan; Niall Mitchell, Killian Doyle, Robbie Greville; David Williams, Darragh Clinton, David O'Reilly.

Subs: Jamie Mulkearns, Charlie McCormack, Eoin Keyes, Joey Boyle, Ciarán Doyle, Owen McCabe, Jack Gillen, Conor Shaw, Cormac Boyle, Michael Daly, Davy Glennon.

Meath: Charlie Ennis; Michael Burke, Shane Whitty, Daire Shine; Simon Ennis, James Kelly, Kris Gorman; Seán Geraghty, Niall McLarnon; James Murray, Tom Shine, Mark Horan; Seán Quigley, Éamon Óg Ó Donnchadha, Nicky Potterton.

Subs: Philip O'Brien, Seán Martin, Damien Healy, Ethan Devine, Jack Walsh, Jamie Leavy, Ciarán Lonergan, David Murtagh, Ronan Byrne, Domhnall Rogers, Willie Gleeson.

Sunday May 19

Offaly v Kerry, Glenisk O'Connor Park, 1pm

These teams firmly believe that a place in the decider can be attained so Sunday's match in Tullamore is vital.

Charlie Mitchell and Dan Bourke were outstanding for Offaly in the emphatic win over Meath in Trim.

Despite losing to pace setters Laois, Kerry have been impressive in the competition with Fionn Mackessy and Ronan Walsh industrious.

Stephen Molumphy's promising team will be aware of Offaly's ability so this should be an interesting clash.

Offaly: Mark Troy; Ben Conneely, Ciarán Burke, Cathal King; Luke Watkins, Cillian Kiely, Sam Bourke; David King, Jason Sampson; Killian Sampson, Brian Duignan, Eoghan Cahill; Dan Bourke, Charlie Mitchell, Eimhin Kelly.

Subs: Stephen Corcoran, Dara Maher, Adam Screeney, Jack Clancy, Ross Ravenhill, Oisín Kelly, Colin Spain, Donal Shirley, Paul Cleary, Kieran Connors, James Nally.

Kerry: Louis Dee; Flor McCarthy, Daithi Griffin, Eric Leen; Fionan Mackessy, Evan Murphy, Kyle O'Connor; Colin Walsh, Darragh Shanahan; Ronan Walsh, Maurice O'Connor, Killian Hayes; Gavin Dooley, Brandon Barrett, Michael Leane.

Subs: Diarmuid Quirke, Bill Keane, Dan Goggin, Dara Keaney, Darragh Reen, David Woulfe, Felim O'Sullivan, Niall Mulcahy, Rory O'Mahony, Tomás O'Connor, Tom Doyle.