Laois Player of the Match Aisling Donoher celebrates with her husband Niall Donoher and their son Dan. Piaras Ó Mídheach/SPORTSFILE

Laois 'win the hard way' and Do it for Dan

Aisling Donoher headed up a resolute defence as the O’Moore county bridged a 22-year gap for All-Ireland intermediate glory.

LAOIS MANAGER DONIE Brennan hailed the performance of his defence as the O’Moore County claimed their first TG4 All-Ireland intermediate championship in over two decades at Croke Park.

Laois last lifted the Mary Quinn Memorial Cup in 2000, one year before they beat Mayo in the senior decider, and they will return to the top-tier again in 2023 after yesterday’s win over Wexford.

Mo Nerney scored 1-5 for Brennan’s side but it was the resolute defending that kept Wexford at bay until late in the game, when Catriona Murray finally found the net for a consolation.

“If you listen to all the so-called experts and reports, there was a lot of criticism towards our backs and we had magical forwards who were able to put up big scores,” said Brennan after the 1-13 to 1-11 win.

“Our full-back line; absolutely outstanding. They won every 50/50 ball, every 60/40 ball against them. They laid the foundations for the forwards to do their job.

“We are old-fashioned in the way we like to play, maybe a nine or ten-point lead, didn’t matter. I suppose the girls were a bit nervous. We were dominating the game; we just weren’t converting our chances.

“Even coming in at half-time, we just wanted to go out in the second half and to win the match by 17 or 18, if we were able to.

“Wexford hung in there, they got a goal near the end. This Laois team, since I’ve been involved, we win the hard way.”

Laois full-back Aisling Donoher capped a remarkable return to inter-county football by winning the TG4 Player of the Match.

LadiesFootballTV / YouTube

Aisling spoke brilliantly in a heartfelt interview with Jerome Quinn afterwards, herself and her family having thrown themselves into fundraising for her son Dan who has a rare disease that can only be treated in America.

“After three years out, I asked myself, ‘Am I absolutely crazy going back?’ but the girls supported me the whole way through,’” Donoher explained.

“Yesterday I was at Dan’s Little Blue Heroes graduation, with six other very sick little kids. The girls came along, we were all standing watching them graduating.

“I mean this is a game of football — it’s amazing, but it’s only a game of football. You have to enjoy it and make friends, if you win, great, and if not, you make the best of friends.

“Today, I was Doing it for Dan — and Sophie — but I was definitely doing it for Dan.”

Wexford were second best on the biggest day for the second consecutive year.

It was more gut-wrenching disappointment at HQ, the Yellowbellies previously suffering a 25-point defeat to Westmeath. 1-9 to 0-3 down at the break yesterday, they gradually worked their way into the game, but Laois held off a late charge.

“We didn’t keep the scoreboard ticking over in the first half,” manager Lizzy Kent reflected afterwards.

“Laois got a good start, we didn’t find our rhythm, get our flow early doors; a few mistimed passes, a few different things.

“We went in at half time and we didn’t have any intention at that stage of throwing in the towel. We put a bit more of a performance, that we are able to do, in the second half.”

- Additional reporting by Emma Duffy; first published 07.00, 1 August

Deniese O'Flaherty
Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel