Laois put the disappointment of relegation behind them in spectacular fashion at O’Moore Park this afternoon when a blistering burst of goals either side of half time crushed Longford and set up a tantalising local derby with Kildare in the quarter finals of the Leinster football championship, writes Kevin Egan.
“Laois and Kildare is a big one” agreed Peter Creedon after his side’s win, before playing down expectations in advance of that clash.
“Kildare are outside on a warm-weather training camp this week so it's going to be a challenge, one to look forward to. It's in Tullamore which is a good field. Look we can't have any complaints, we're in a much better place than we were five weeks ago at the end of the league”.
“The challenge is there now and if we don't put in a performance, Kildare are well capable of giving us a dusting. So we have to improve, start working harder, track those runners in the middle of the field. Hopefully that win today will give a bounce in confidence which is no harm either” he added.
If Laois were low on confidence going into today’s tie, it certainly didn’t show in the early stages. Donie Kingston ran riot early on, scoring three points of his own and setting up several others for his colleagues as the home side fired over nine points from nine attempts in the opening fifteen minutes.
Gradually however, the tide turned. Players like Dermot Brady and James McGivney started to hoover up the breaks in the middle third and with Robbie Smyth in scintillating form up front, Longford halved the gap from six points to just three with half time looming. They could have got even closer only for a controversial decision to wave Barry McKeon’s close range thunderbolt wide, a decision that was hotly disputed by the Longford team and management.
“Barry’s effort was a score as far as I’m concerned, unless my eyes deceive me. Our younger players knew it was a score but they seemed to lose concentration for that split second and then bang, we were two goals down” conceded Longford manager Denis Connerton afterwards.
While Longford looked for the umpire’s call to be overturned, John O’Loughlin fielded Graham Brody’s kickout superbly and set in train an attack that ended with Paul Kingston slamming the ball inside Paddy Collum’s near post.
With the very next attack, Donie Kingston added to Longford’s misery with an immaculately placed low shot into the bottom corner of the net, leaving the visitors with a mountain to climb at 2-10 to 0-7 behind at the interval.
And if the two goals before half time changed the game, the two after the break completely killed the contest. Alan Farrell and Paul Kingston rattled twine for the first two scores after the restart and with fifteen points between the sides at that stage, there was only ever going to be one winner of this contest.
Robbie Smyth continued to work hard for Longford and he ended the day with an excellent personal haul of 0-11, but his accuracy wasn’t matched by his colleagues, while the goals that the visitors badly needed never came.
“We didn’t really threaten their goalkeeper today and that’s unusual for us, not to get at least one shot at the goalkeeper” bemoaned Connerton.
“Sean (McCormack) had one in the first half but outside of that I don’t remember Graham Brody being pushed too hard by our attack. That was a testament to the defending by Laois – they were clearly well prepared for the game. We thought we were, but unfortunately a three minute spell cost us so dearly” he lamented.
Laois: G Brody; D Strong (0-1), D Booth, D O’Connor; E Buggie (0-1), S Attride, P McMahon (0-1); B Quigley (0-1), C Begley (0-1); A Farrell (1-0), J O’Loughlin (0-3), N Donoher (0-1); E O’Carroll (0-1), D Kingston (1-4, 0-3 frees), P Kingston (2-1).
Subs: J Kelly for O’Connor (32), G Dillon for Attride (58), J Finn for D Kingston (68), R Munnelly for O’Carroll (70), K Meaney for Donoher (70+3), S Moore for O’Loughlin (70+3).
Longford: P Collum; D McElligott, B Gilleran, A Farrell; D Brady, J McGivney, D Reynolds; J Keegan, D Masterson; B McKeon, M Quinn, R McEntire (0-1); R Smyth (0-11, 0-7 frees), L Connerton (0-1), S McCormack (0-1).
Subs: D Gallagher (0-1) for Masterson (29), B O’Farrell for Farrell (HT), L Moran for Keegan (41), C Berry (0-1) for O’Farrell (56), D McGivney for McEntire (70), D Mimnagh for Reynolds (70)
Referee: Anthony Nolan (Wicklow).
Meanwhile, there has been a shock at the start of the Leinster Football Championship.
Carlow have defeated south-east neighbours Wexford at Netwatch Cullen Park by 2-17 to 2-13, to book a quarter-final date with Dublin.