Offaly take the plunge as brawl brings Laois to life

Laois 2-13 Offaly 2-12

That's the bad news for Mike McNamara's side after yesterday's game against Laois that spluttered along for 55 uneventful minutes until a 21-man melee brought it bursting to life.

Cyril Cuddy and Damien Murray began the scuffle under the Laois posts after Michael Cordial struck a shot wide. While that was handbags stuff, the serious disagreements started when players arrived from all corners to lend their weight to the argument.

Birr's Barry Whelahan and Castletown's David Cuddy no strangers down the years - were the chief offenders and they saw the line for their part in the ugly affair. But the consequences didn't end there for the Offaly men.

Prior to that they were six points ahead and cruising to the win that would guarantee them safety. Instead, the brawl re-energised Laois. Four unanswered points brought the score to 2-12 to 1-11 until Dylan Hayden's point left a goal between the sides. That's when the real controversy started. With four minutes of injury-time already ticked off, Laois full-forward Liam Tynan careered toward Brian Mullins' goal, ball in hand.

Almost a dozen steps later and his fist was still wrapped around the sliothar. When he finally did let go it was to drop kick it off the crossbar. Damien Culleton followed it up and the scores were level.

That in itself would have been enough to relegate their old foes but Tynan added another point to give Laois the win and rub the salt into Offaly's wounds. The unthinkable had happened.

"It's the old story for us in the league, a last-minute goal cost us," Mike McNamara lamented afterwards.

Yet, had Laois began as well as they finished it might not have gone down to a disputed last-gasp goal. Instead, they shot nine wides and left three attempts short in the opening 23 minutes.

Offaly were quick to capitalise on that, particularly when Murray goaled ten minutes in and again 13 minutes later, but for all Laois' mistakes, Culleton's first goal on the stroke of half-time left them only 2-4 to 1-6 in arrears.

Offaly streaked out of the blocks on the restart, managing seven points to Laois' solitary reply before the brawl broke out and turned everything on its head.

OFFALY: B Mullins; B Buckley, G Oakley, M O'Hara; N Claffey, B Whelahan, K Brady; M Cordial (0-1), Barry Whelahan (0-1); C Gath, N Coughlan (0-1), G Hanniffy (0-2); S Whelehan (0-1), J Brady (0-1), D Murray (2-3, 3f). Subs: D Hayden (0-2) for C Gath 35, A McRedmond for K Brady 54,

LAOIS: K Galvin; Cyril Cuddy, Patrick Cuddy, M McEvoy; R Conroy, Paul Cuddy, D Rooney; D Cuddy, E Meagher (0-1); R Jones, J Young (0-7f), E Jackman (0-1); C Brophy, L Tynan (0-2), D Culleton (2-0). Subs: C Coonan for R Jones 45, F Keenan (0-1) for E Jackman 56, E Browne (0-1) for C Brophy 65,

Referee: S McMahon (Clare).

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