By Micil Glennon
Laois v Louth, O'Moore Park, Sunday 3pm
Laois host Louth on Sunday with the prize of a home quarter-final against Wexford for the winner.
The O'Moore County narrowly missed out on promotion to the top tier this spring, finishing third behind Derry and Westmeath in Division 2 of the Allianz League.
Last season's Championship, however, saw Laois go on a very impressive qualifier run, which saw wins over Carlow, Monaghan, Leitrim and Meath before losing narrowly to Dublin in the All-Ireland quarter-finals.
All this after a shock loss to Longford in Leinster.
Manager Justin McNulty, in his third year at the helm, comes up against former Armagh team-mate Aidan O'Rourke, who is in charge of the Wee County, and was keen to talk up his old pal.
“Aidan is a meticulous planner, fantastic motivator, his attention to detail is phenomenal...they will know us more than we know them,” he told reporters.
McNulty starts with Donie Kingston, a player Colm Parkinson called Laois's Michael Murphy, at centre-half forward, in a real boost for the O'Moore County.
O'Rourke, in his first year in charge, led Louth to a respectable fourth-place finish in Division 2.
Last season they beat Westmeath in the preliminary round but suffered a 16-point loss to Dublin in the quarter-final, before finishing with a qualifier loss - to Westmeath.
Louth captain Paddy Keenan has predicted a tight affair.
The St Patrick's clubman told The Drogheda Independent: "I don't think either team will be overwhelming favourites. I'd say both sides are expecting a point or two either way.
"People looking at it from the outside will see Laois as a stronger team with a better pedigree and history."
O'Rouke hands Championship debuts to Conor Rafferty, Ciaran Byrne and John Bingham.
Darren Clarke and Conor McGuinness are not in the starting XV due to injury.
Louth: N Gallagher; P Rath, D Finnegan, J Bingham; J O'Brien, D Crilly, A Reid; P Keenan, B Donnelly; A McDonnell, B White, C Rafferty; C Byrne, S Lennon, D Maguire.
Laois: E Culliton; M Timmons, D Booth, P O'Leary; D Strong, J O'Loughlin (c), P McMahon; C Boyle, B Quigley; R Munnelly, D Kingston, C Begley; D O'Connor, G Walsh, C Kelly.
Live television coverage of Kerry v Tipperary and Donegal v Tyrone from 13:30 on Sunday 26 May on RTÉ Two and RTÉ.ie (Ireland only). Live radio coverage of all the day’s action featuring Donegal v Tyrone from 14:00 on RTÉ Radio 1, RTÉ RnaG and RTÉ.ie (Worldwide).
Highlights and analysis of all the weekend’s action on The Sunday Game from 21:30 on Sunday 26 May on RTÉ Two and RTÉ.ie (Ireland only).
Previews, reviews and features of all the GAA Championship action on Championship Matters from 20:30 on Thursday 30 May on RTÉ Two and RTÉ.ie (Ireland only).