The man with an encyclopedic knowledge of Gaelic games in Kilkenny will be plotting the downfall of the county this weekend.
Christy Walsh, the current Bennettsbridge manager and the man who guided Kilkenny to success in the British junior football championship two seasons ago, will be managing the Laois team against the Cats in the Electric Ireland Leinster minor hurling semi-final in Portlaois on Saturday (3pm).
“That is an added twist in an already difficult challenge,” suggested Kilkenny manager, Pat O'Grady. “Christy would know everyone because he would follow Kilkenny club hurling very closely.
Knows his game
“He knows his game, and he always has his team well organised. He has Laois flying,” O'Grady added.
The Noresiders will be without the injured Ted Drea (broke collar-bone) and Conor Heary (hamstring), while Jordan Molloy, Adrian Mullen and Evan Shefflin are all nursing knocks that make them extremely doubtful.
“We could be five down from the starting team against Wexford,” the manager explained. “No team can lose such talent and not be concerned.”
The Cats scored wins over Westmeath and Wexford in the championship.
Laois have an advantage in that they played a championship match as recently as April 29 when they beat a competitive Meath team.
“They are hurling as good as anyone out there at the moment,” Mr O'Grady suggested. “What they have this time is forwards.
“The two Comerfords', Kieran and Daniel, are hugely talented dual players. They won with the footballers last week, so spirits are good in the county.
“It is not going to be easy, and certainly not playing in Portlaois.
“There is no Leinster final, nothing ahead, as far as we are concerned. We are only as far as we were last year, so if we don't get any further there is no progression.
“You always have to be progressing.”
Laois love playing Kilkenny, at any level, and such clashes are always huge for them.
“We are expecting fireworks,” Mr O'Grady said. “ We are looking forward to the challenge.
“The prize is huge for any young lad. If their team wins they get to go to a Leinster final and to play in Croke Park. That is a great opportunity.
Dublin and Wexford face each other in the second semi-final.
Kilkenny panel - Jack Kelly (Barrow Rangers); Jordan Molloy (O'Loughlin's); Conor Flynn (Graigue- Ballycallan); Conor Heary (O 'Loughlin's); Niall Brassil (James Stephens); Sean Boyd (Dicksboro); Ben Maher (O'Loughlin's); Mickey Butler (O'Loughlin's); John Minogue (Dicksboro); John Dowd (Erin's Own); James Brennan ( Erin's Own); Ross Connolly (Erin's Own); Darragh Walsh (Piltown); Richie Hennessy ( Glenmore); Jim Ryan (Rower-Inistioge); Oisin Phelan (Galmoy); Niall Brennan (Lisdowney); Evan Shefflin (Ballyhale); Michael Carey (Young Irelands); Tommy Ronan (Gragiue-Ballycallan); Brian Staunton (Thomastown); Eoghan Moylan (Dicksboro); Adrian Mullen (Ballyhale); Eoin O'Shea (O'Loughlin's); Ted Drea (Young Irelands); Daithi Barron (Thomastown); Sean Ryan (Graigue-Ballycallan); Jesse Roberts (Graigue-Ballycallan); Killian Egan (Graigue-Ballycallan); Dean Mason (Ballyhale); Luke Murphy (James Stephens); Eoin Cody (Ballyhale).