This is the third Leinster SFC meeting between Laois and Longford this decade and indications are it could be as close as the previous two clashes, when only a single point separated the sides.
Longford got the upper-hand in 2012, while Laois came through the year before, and though there are not many survivors from those games, league form suggests they remain two evenly-matched sides.
For Laois go from Divisions 2 to 4 in successive years caused shock-waves in football circles. Had they snatched a draw in the final round versus Offaly, survival would have been achieved, but the league season in general was unsatisfactory. Longford, on the other hand, secured a draw in their last game away to Antrim and so stayed up.
The counties met in the league at O’Moore Park on 25th March, with Laois winning by three points, 1-13 to 0-13.
It wasn’t the start Peter Creedon had hoped for in his first season in Laois, but a victory on Sunday would restore some lost pride.
Denis Connerton is in his second season in charge of Longford and even though they lost the first round last year to Offaly, qualifier wins away to Down and Monaghan showed what they are capable of.
With Kildare awaiting the winners, both counties will feel that a Leinster semi-final, at least, could be within their grasp.
Laois captain Stephen Attride says they’ve been striving to give their supporters something to cheer about in the championship. “We were gutted after the league – we know what happened wasn’t good enough, and we’ve been working hard as a group to put things right,” he says. “We identified a few things that went wrong during the campaign and have tried to rectify them.”
For his part, Longford net-minder Paddy Collum says the relief of avoiding relegation has boosted their confidence. “For two years in a row, it’s gone down to the last game to stay up. Thankfully, we got the draw up in Antrim and it kept us in it – it was good preparation for the championship. We’ve a good young team and will go out and play football and see what happens on the day.”