Jackie Cahill reporting at O’Moore Park
ÉAMONN KELLY’S LAOIS pulled off a dramatic one-point victory over Carlow this afternoon to book a spot in tomorrow morning’s All-Ireland SHC qualifier draw.
In a gripping preliminary round fixture at O’Moore Park, Laois played with 14 men from the 13th minute, after captain Ross King was sent off, and scored two points deep in stoppage time to seal the win.
Carlow, the Christy Ring Cup winners, were 1-16 to 2-12 clear when James Doyle pointed in the first minute of additional time but after goalkeeper Enda Rowland nailed a monster free, Neil Foyle fired over the winner for the O’Moore men.
Carlow also finished the game a man light when their skipper, Martin Kavanagh, was dismissed on a second yellow card with ten minutes of normal time remaining.
In a stunning finish, the pendulum swung back and forth before Foyle’s late, late intervention.
Laois will join Munster sides Waterford, Tipperary and Limerick on one side of the qualifier draw, but can only draw Kilkenny, Offaly or Dublin, as they’ve already met Westmeath in the Leinster round-robin series.
This victory for Laois narrows the odds on Waterford drawing a fellow big gun– Kilkenny or Tipperary.
Laois battled through, despite registering 15 wides, and remain in the championship after bouncing back from their Leinster quarter-final loss to Wexford.
Carlow led by 1-8 to 0-9 at the end of an entertaining, if error-strewn, first half.
Both sides were guilty of some poor wides, Laois with seven and five for Carlow, although the visitors argued vehemently that Diarmuid Byrne’s effort, waved off-target in the tenth minute, was good.
Carlow were 0-2 to 0-1 clear before King’s dismissal and in the 16th minute, Colm Bonnar’s charges struck for goal.
Poor defensive work allowed the ball through to James Doyle but his reverse pass to Kavanagh was superb, as the captain then controlled on his stick, turned and slotted home a picture-book goal in one, fluent movement.
A Paul Coady point then stretched Carlow’s lead to five points – 1-3 to 0-1 – before Laois hit four on the spin to work their way right back into contention.
It was very much tit-for-tat for a spell after that but Carlow, playing with the breeze in the opening half, pushed the lead back out to three again, with points from Byrne and Kavanagh.
The returning Cahir Healy’s second point reduced the Laois deficit to two points and while John Michael Nolan, with some excellent work, moved Carlow three ahead once more, lively Laois midfielder Patrick Purcell kept them in touch with the final score of the half.
Carlow had worked a decent platform for themselves, and with the extra man, but they also had goalkeeper Brian Tracey to thank for a couple of excellent saves in that first half.
A late call-up in place of James Carroll, Tracey kept out Neil Foyle with an excellent early save and later in the half, the Naomh Eoin net-minder swatted away Purcell’s fierce drive.
Early in the second half, Kavanagh was denied by a smart Rowland save but Carlow looked good before being rocked on their heels by two Laois goals.
Sean Downey bounded all the way through the Carlow defence before whipping home a 47th-minute goal after losing control of the sliotar, and that score levelled matters at 1-10 apiece.
Ten minutes later, Foyle netted after brilliantly fetching Jack Kelly’s long delivery and Laois were now 2-12 to 1-12 clear.
But back came Carlow with four unanswered points down the home straight to lead by one, before that late Laois double edged them over the line.
Scorers for Laois – Sean Downey & Neil Foyle 1-1 each, Stephen Maher 0-3 (2f), Enda Rowland (2f), Patrick Purcell & Cahir Healy 0-2 each, Ross King (f), Mark Kavanagh & Cian Taylor 0-1 each.
Scorers for Carlow – Martin Kavanagh 1-2, Chris Nolan 0-4 (2f), Paul Coady 0-3 (1f), Denis Murphy (2f) & Diarmuid Byrne 0-2 each, John Michael Nolan, James Doyle & Eddie Byrne 0-1 each.
1. Enda Rowland (St Lazerian’s Abbeyleix)
2. Dwane Palmer (Camross)
3. Leigh Bergin (Shanahoe)
4. Lee Cleere (Clough Ballacolla)
5. Eric Killeen (Rathdowney Errill)
6. Matthew Whelan (Borris-in-Ossory-Kilcotton)
7. Ciarán Collier (Camross)
10. Jack Kelly (Rathdowney Errill)
9. Patrick Purcell (Rathdowney Errill)
12. Seán Downey (Ballinakill)
17. Cahir Healy (Portlaoise)
8. Ross King (Rathdowney Errill)
13. Mark Kavanagh (Rathdowney Errill)
14. Neil Foyle (Borris-in-Ossory-Kilcotton)
11. Stephen Maher (Clough Ballacolla)
18. Donncha Hartnett (Mountmellick) for Palmer (h.t.)
15. Aaron Dunphy (Borris-in-Ossory-Kilcotton) for Kavanagh (43)
19. Cian Taylor (Portlaoise) for Maher (inj., 52)
20. Aidan Corby (Clough Ballacolla) for Collier (61)
23. Stephen Bergin (Clough Ballacolla) for Downey (68)
16. Brian Tracey (Naomh Eoin)
2. Alan Corcoran (Erin’s Own)
3. Paul Doyle (St Mullin’s)
4. Gary Bennett (St Mullin’s)
5. Richard Coady (Mount Leinster Rangers)
6. David English (Ballinkillen)
7. Richard Kelly (Mount Leinster Rangers)
23. Jack Murphy (Mount Leinster Rangers)
9. Diarmuid Byrne (Mount Leinster Rangers)
10. John Michael Nolan (Naomh Eoin)
15. Paul Coady (Mount Leinster Rangers)
14. Eddie Byrne (Mount Leinster Rangers)
13. Denis Murphy (Mount Leinster Rangers)
12. James Doyle (St Mullin’s)
11. Martin Kavanagh (St Mullin’s)
19. Dion Wall (Ballinkillen) for P Doyle (inj., 28)
17. Chris Nolan (Mount Leinster Rangers) for D Murphy (41)
8. Jack Kavanagh (St Mullin’s) for J Murphy (58)
24. Kevin McDonald (Mount Leinster Rangers) for P Coady (65)
Referee: Diarmuid Kirwan (Cork)
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