Laois survive Wicklow comeback to progress in qualifiers

Laois survive Wicklow comeback to progress in qualifiers

Laois 2-16 Wicklow 3-10

Laois withstood a stubborn Wicklow fightback to claim a Round 1 All-Ireland Senior Football Qualifier win at a sunny Aughrim this evening.

The visitors defence were caught napping in the closing stages, conceding two goals inside a minute, including one from Paddy Byrne, but somehow Laois held out for a three-point win.

Peter Creedon's charges were far more clinical in the opening half, and led by 1-8 to 0-5 at half-time, with Gary Walsh firing 1-3 in the first half, including a 10th minute goal.

Wind assisted Laois pushed eight points clear early on the restart, but lost their captain Stephen Attride to a black card in the 41st minute.

Wicklow cut the gap to three points at the start of the final quarter, after Paul Cunningham cut in for a well worked goal, but Laois came good once more.

They moved 2-14 to 1-9 ahead after Donie Kingston bagged the O'Moore's second goal, following a James Finn delivery, but Wicklow pushed hard yet again.

Laois survive Wicklow comeback to progress in qualifiers

Seanie Furlong delivered to Paddy Byrne who found the net in the 68th minute, with Wicklow again netting from the resulting kick-out, but Laois held out for victory.

Laois went into this game missing Niall Donoher and Denis Booth through injury, but welcomed back Mark Timmons for his first action of 2017, after double hip surgery before Christmas.

Other changes from the side which lost to Kildare, saw Laois captain Stephen Attride; Gary Walsh and David Conway handed starts.

Laois began this game in strong fashion and led by 0-3 to 0-0 early on, with Kingston and Walsh (2) on target.

Both were deployed by the O'Moore's in a two-man full-forward line, and despite playing against the breeze, it seemed to matter little to the eventual winners.

Furlong opened the Wicklow account with a pointed free in the ninth minute, before Laois bagged their opening goal.

Kingston tried to pick out Colm Begley, but Walsh took possession and finished superbly to the net.

Five points clear, Laois further extended the gap, before Furlong claimed the hosts second score.

Wicklow began to get to grips with this game, but struggled in front of the posts, firing three successive wides, before a Paul Cunningham score.

Walsh, John O;Loughlin and Begley added points, before Mark Kenny claimed a much required Wicklow score, to ensure a 1-8 to 0-4 score-line after 28 minutes.

Cunningham cut through for a goal opportunity, but Graham Briody pulled off a fine save for Laois.

The visitors lost Brendan Quigley through injury, before Cunningham claimed the final score of the half, to cut the gap to six points at the break.

Laois extended their lead further on the restart, with yet another piece of brilliance at the opposite end from Graham Brody - this time stopping a Darren Hayden shot.

Cunningham fired his third score, before Alan Farrell and substitute Ross Munnelly got Laois back on track.

Cunningham certainly was Wicklow's danger man, and following a pass from Furlong he delivered their first goal, with 19 minutes left.

This score cut the gap to three points, but Laois once again came good.

Kingston and O'Loughlin added points, before the former fired a well struck goal, after a well placed ball from James Finn.

Begley and Damien O'Connor extended the Laois advantage to nine points, and although Wicklow managed two quick goals five minutes later, Laois held out for a place in Monday's Round 2 Qualifier Draw.

LAOIS: G Brody; D Strong, M Timmons, T Collins (0-1); E Buggie, P McMahon, C Begley (0-2); J O'Loughlin (0-2), B Quigley; D O'Connor (0-1), D Conway (0-1), A Farrell (0-1); G Walsh (1-3, 2 45s), D Kingston (1-4, 2f), S Attride. Subs: J Finn for Quigley (32); E O'Carroll for Attride (42 BC); R Munnelly (0-1) for Walsh (44); K Lillis for McMahon (47); A Doran for O'Carroll (62); G Dillon for Conway (66).

WICKLOW: R Lambert; B Kennedy, A McLoughlin, S Kelly; J Crowe, C Hyland, D Fitzgerald; D Boothman, R Finn; C Ffrench, D Healy, D Hayden; M Kenny (0-2), S Furlong (0-3, 3f), P Cunningham (2-3, 1f). Subs: J McGrath (0-2) for Boothman (HT); P Traynor for Ffrench (HT); P Byrne (1-0) for Fitzgerald (56).

REFEREE: Barry Cassidy (Derry)

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