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Dublin: 7 °C Sunday 16 December, 2018
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Kingston shines as Laois stutter past Wicklow to set up quarter-final clash with Dublin

The hosts enjoyed a seven-point victory at O’Moore Park this evening.

Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Laois 3-16
Wicklow 0-18

Jackie Cahill reports from O’Moore Park, Portlaoise

DONIE KINGSTON COLLECTED 1-6 for Laois at O’Moore Park this evening as they booked a Leinster SFC quarter-final clash with holders Dublin on 4 June.

But Laois were made to work hard for this seven-point win by dogged Wicklow, who were just two points down in the closing minutes before Kingston’s 69th-minute goal made the game safe.

This win will have come as a massive relief to Laois manager Mick Lillis, following the disappointment of relegation from Division 2 of the Allianz Football League.

And while a positive result is highly unlikely, at least Laois can now look ahead to a novel clash with Dublin in Kilkenny.

That fixture will mark the first time since 2006 that Dublin have played a championship fixture outside of Croke Park and while Nowlan Park is the current venue for the game, Laois may make late representations to Leinster Council in an attempt to get the match switched to O’Moore Park.

For chunks of the first half this evening, Laois looked comfortable and led by six points on two occasions – but Wicklow were competitive throughout on an evening when they missed some decent chances, particularly from frees.

The sides shared the opening four points of the game before Laois full-forward Gary Walsh fired home a cracking goal in the eighth minute.

Wicklow stand for the national anthem The Wicklow team pictured before throw-in. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

That score boosted Laois considerably and by the 17th minute, they were 1-6 to 0-3 in front.

For the remainder of the half, Laois kept Wicklow comfortably at arm’s length and they were 1-10 to 0-7 in front before Dean Healy kicked the final score of the half for the Garden County.

Rory Finn’s free on the resumption had Wicklow within four points but they had goalkeeper Robert Lambert to thank for a quite outstanding save to keep out Evan O’Carroll’s shot.

At the other end, Wicklow kept plugging away and were a point behind, 0-12 to 1-10, before O’Carroll settled Laois nerves with a free.

Gary Walsh celebrates scoring a goal Gary Walsh celebrates his goal for Laois in the first half. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Laois were firmly back in command in the 46th minute when sub Ruairi O’Connor rammed home a super goal to establish a 2-11 to 0-12 lead.

The Laois lead went back out to six when O’Carroll landed a free but Wicklow, to their credit, hung in grimly and had the gap back to just three points with scores from Healy, Paul Cunningham (free) and Finn, the latter a stunning effort from play.

Remarkably, another Finn free had Wicklow just two behind before Kingston kicked a quick-fire brace from play to seemingly move Laois out of danger.

But Wicklow refused to yield and points from sub John Crowe and corner back Arran Murphy pointed to leave just two between the sides again.

Kingston responded with a Laois free as the clock ticked down and the lethal forward put the end result beyond any lingering doubt by slamming home a 69th-minute goal.

Scorers for Laois: Donie Kingston 1-6 (0-2f), Gary Walsh 1-1, Evan O’Carroll 0-4 (3f), Ruairi O’Connor 1-0, Ross Munnelly 0-2 (1f), Gareth Dillon, John O’Loughlin & Paul Cahillane 0-1 each.

Scorers for Wicklow: Rory Finn 0-6 (4f), Dean Healy, John McGrath (1f) & Paul Cunningham (2f) 0-2 each, Paul McLoughlin, Arran Murphy, Darren Hayden, Paddy Byrne, John Crowe & Anthony McLoughlin 0-1 each.

Laois

1. Graham Brody (Portlaoise)

2. Stephen Attride (Killeshin)
3. Mark Timmons (Graiguecullen)
4. Paul Cotter (Portlaoise)

5. Damien O’Connor (Timahoe)
6. Darren Strong (Emo)
7. Gareth Dillon (Portlaoise)

8. John O’Loughlin (St Brigid’s)
9. Brendan Quigley (Timahoe)

10. Niall Donoher (Courtwood)
11. Paul Cahillane (Portlaoise)
12. Evan O’Carroll (Crettyard)

13. Ross Munnelly (Arles-Kilcruise)
14. Gary Walsh (Ballylinan)
15. Donal Kingston (Arles-Killeen)

Subs

23. Matthew Campion (St Joseph’s) for Donoher (h.t.)
25. Ruairi O’Connor (Timahoe) for Munnelly (h.t.)
21. Kevin Meaney (Arles-Kilcruise) for Campion (48)
20. Alan Farrell (Ballylinan) for Dillon (55)
26. Evin Keane (The Heath) for Walsh (62)
22. Jamie Farrell (Ballylinan) for O’Carroll (68)

Wicklow

1. Robert Lambert (Eachdruim)

2. Ciaran Hyland (Na nGearaltaigh/Baile Mhuine)
3. Paul McLoughlin (Baile Coimín)
4. Arran Murphy (Emmet Bhré)

5. Chris Murphy (Baile na gCor)
6. Dean Healy (Naomh Pádraig)
7. Stephen Kelly (Éire Óg – Clocha Liath)

8. Rory Finn (Naomh Teagain)
9. Niall Gaffney (Emmet Bhré)

10. Darren Hayden (Éire Óg – Clocha Liath)
11. John McGrath (Bealach Conglais)
12. Mark Kenny (Baile Mainis)

13. Paddy Byrne (Baile Mainis)
14. Paul Cunningham (Emmet Bhré)
15. Marc Lennon (Emmet Bhré)

Subs 

21. Anthony McLoughlin (Baile Coimín) for Gaffney (h.t.)
20. Danny Woods (Éire Óg – Clocha Liath) for Kenny (41)
22. Patrick O’Connor (Baile Coimín) for McGrath (43)
18. John Crowe (Naomh Pádraig) for C Murphy (51)
25. Sam Thompson (Éire Óg – Clocha Liath) for Byrne (57)
23. Gary Allen (Dun Luain) for Lennon (67)

Referee: Fergal Kelly (Longford)

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