Richie Leahy is put under pressure by Mark Kavanagh. Donall Farmer/INPHO
No Minor Matter

All-Ireland champions Kilkenny breeze past Laois into another Leinster final

Pat Hoban’s side bidding for a Leinster minor treble when they take on Dublin in a fortnight’s time.

Kilkenny 2-18

Laois 0-11

– Niall Kelly reports from Nowlan Park

ALL-IRELAND CHAMPIONS Kilkenny continued their dominance at minor level as they booked their return to another Leinster final.

Goals from Andy Gaffney and John Donnelly in either half steered the Cats to an impressive 13-point win in the Nowlan Park curtain-raiser.

Pat Hoban’s side will now be gunning for a third straight Leinster crown when they meet Dublin in Croke Park in a fortnight’s time — a repeat of last year’s provincial decider.

It caps a nightmare weekend for Laois GAA following the senior footballers’ shock exit against Antrim yesterday and the hurlers’ drubbing by Galway in the senior semi-finals.

Playing with a strong breeze at their backs, Kilkenny took full advantage to open up a nine-point lead by half-time.

It was Gaffney’s goal in the 12th minute that handed the hosts the decisive advantage. Playing in a two-man inside forward line alongside Joey Cuddihy, the pair’s movement caused nightmares for the Laois defence as Kilkenny dominated possession.

Gaffney got out in front of the Laois full-back line and caught keeper Stephen Kelly off guard when he spun to shoot from the 21-metre line.

It was part of an impressive 1-6 haul for the young Dicksboro forward, one of the survivors from last year’s All-Ireland win.

Laois were limited to just five points in that opening first half, three of which came from placed balls courtesy of Mark Kavanagh.

Playing into the teeth of that wind, they struggled for possession as the Kilkenny midfield duo Richie Leahy and Joe Connolly gobbled up puckouts.

Laois led for the only time in the fourth minute when Aaron Dunphy pointed to make it  0-2 to 0-1.

It was to be their last score for almost half an hour, although that time did include a stoppage of nearly 10 minutes so that Laois centre-back Denis Cahill could receive extensive treatment following an accidental collision.

Kilkenny posted 1-6 without reply in that intervening period, Donnelly, Tadhg O’Dwyer and Leahy all contributing alongside Gaffney’s 1-3.

Trailing 1-11 to 0-45 at the break, any Laois hope of riding the wind to a second-half revival was snuffed out within five minutes of the restart.

Captain Daniel O’Connor, the hero of the extra-time win against Wexford in the quarter-finals, was the creator, setting up Donnelly who rifled an unstoppable shot past Kelly.

It stretched Kilkenny’s lead to 11 and from that point, the game was over as a contest. Kavanagh’s accurate free-taking kept Laois’s score ticking over but they never got closer than nine points as the Cats closed out a comfortable afternoon.

Scorers for Kilkenny: Andy Gaffney 1-6 (2f, 2 65), John Donnelly 1-2, Joey Cuddihy, Richie Leahy (1f), Niall Walsh 0-2 each, Tadhg O’Dwyer, Daniel O’Connor, Darragh Joyce, Joe Connolly 0-1 each.

Scorers for Laois: Mark Kavanagh 0-8 (5f, 1 65), Aaron Dunphy, Stephen Phelan, Aaron Bergin 0-1 each.


1. Shane Murphy (Glenmore)

2. Michael Cody (Dunnamaggin)
3. Tommy Walsh (Tullaroan)
4. Cathal McGrath (John Locke’s)

5. Darren Mullen (Ballyhale Shamrocks)
6. Darragh Joyce (Rower-Instioge)
7. Conor Doheny (Dicksboro)

8. Richie Leahy (Rower-Instioge)
9. Joe Connolly (Clara)

10. Andy Gaffney (Dicksboro)
11. John Donnelly (Thomastown)
12. Daniel O’Connor (O’Loughlin Gaels, capt)

13. Tadhg Dwyer (James Stephens)
14. Joey Cuddihy (Ballyhale Shamrocks)
15. Niall Walsh (Windgap)


1. Stephen Kelly (Rosenallis)

2. Joe Geaney (Portlaoise)
3. Conor Phelan (Castletown)
4. David Connolly (Ballyfin)

5. Liam O’Connell (Rathdowney Errill, capt)
6. Denis Cahill (Park Ratheniska)
7. Lee Cleere (Clough Ballacolla)

8. Sean Downey (Ballinakill)
9. Stephen Dunphy (Borris-in-Ossory – Kilcotton)

10. Stephen Phelan (Borris-in-Ossory – Kilcotton)
11. Martin Phelan (Castletown)
12. Aaron Bergin (Portlaoise)

13. Mark Kavanagh (Rathdowney Errill)
14. Robbie Phelan (Clough Ballacolla)
15. Aaron Dunphy (Borris-in-Ossory – Kilcotton)

Referee: Alfie Devine (Westmeath)

LIVE: Kilkenny v Wexford, Leinster SHC semi-final

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