Laois 3-16 Carlow 0-8
Daragh Ó Conchúir
Laois gained the expected upper hand in this local derby against Carlow to set up another battle for domestic bragging rights against Kildare in the Leinster quarter-final.
The visitors were on a different level to their opponents and with the benefit of a strong wind, utilised that superiority to very good effect in the first half.
Tomás Ó Flatharta’s men were on top in most sectors, with Evan O’Carroll catching two early Carlow kickouts to emphasise that dominance.
Donie Kingston started at full-forward but drifted deep at times and was very influential as a playmaker and finisher.
Carlow didn’t help themselves by turning over the ball too easily, often through inaccurate passing, but Laois were on a different level in terms of athleticism and movement.
Turlough O’Brien was confined to the stands as a result of suspension and he might have had a slight upsurge in optimism mid-way through the first half as Carlow scored three out of four points to get within four.
Kingston and Darren Strong had notched up a brace apiece as Laois kicked the first six points but Daniel St Ledger’s excellently-struck free from 43m into the wind seemed to settle Carlow. Kieran Nolan and Darragh Foley added to the tally but a 27th minute goal from Conor Boyle, after Niall Donoher had broken in behind the defence, halted the resistance.
O’Carroll (45) and Kingston (free) had points before the outstanding John O’Loughlin fired over his second with the left boot to make it 1-10 to 0-3 at half time.
Foley kicked an early free for Carlow but Laois swiftly removed any faint hope of a wind-assisted comeback with three quick points from the Kingston brothers, Donie and Paul, and Ross Munnelly.
O’Loughlin and Brendan Quigley lorded the skies and a brilliant catch by the former started a move that was continued by Boyle before Donie Kingston drilled a low shot from 20m to the Carlow net in the 54th minute.
The full-forward had already blazed one shot wide, and later on, was denied what would have been a wonderful individual goal by Shane Redmond’s last-ditch clearance. Robbie Molloy also denied Stephen Attride with a brave block.
Substitute Tom Shiel showed blinding pace before blasting a bullet beyond Molloy from a tight angle to finally record a third goal and the game wound down to an inevitable conclusion.
Scores and teams:
Laois: D Kingston 1-5(0-2fs); C Boyle 1-1; J O’Loughlin 0-3; T Shiel 1-0; R Munnelly, D Strong 0-2 each; P Kingston, C Begley, E O’Carroll(45) 0-1 each.
Carlow: D St Ledger(1f, 1 45), D Foley(fs), A Kelly 0-2 each; K Nolan, D Hayden 0-1 each.
Laois: G Brody, D O’Connor, M Timmons, S Attride, D Strong, , C Begley R Keogh, B Quigley, J O’Loughlin, N Donoher, C Boyle, E O’Carroll, R Munnelly, D Kingston, P Kingston. Subs: T Shiel for P Kingston (52), Sheehan for O’Carroll (57), C Meredith for Donoher (59), G Hanrahan for O’Connor (60), E Lowry for Munnelly (63), G Dillon for Begley (66).
Carlow: R Molloy, BJ Molloy, S Redmond, K Nolan, M Fitzgerald, D St Ledger, B Kavanagh, S Gannon, D Foley, C Moran, E Ruth, D Bambrick, A Kelly, E Finnegan, D O’Brien. Subs: D Hayden for Fitzgerald (ht), D Roberts for Bambrick (48), E McCormack for O’Brien (56), J Kennedy for Moran (56), D Kelly for Molloy (56), D Moran for Nolan (68).
Referee: P Neilan (Roscommon).