Boss says Carlow lacked belief

AN absence of belief cost Carlow the opportunity of a shock victory over neighbours Laois at O’Moore Park on Saturday night. That was the assessment of losing manager Kevin Ryan who felt the game was over as a contest with 25 minutes remaining.

That might sound strange given that only six points separated the sides but in those opening 15 minutes of the second half, Laois scored a goal and four points to turn a one-point deficit into what was ultimately their winning margin.

Carlow couldn’t muster a response and according to Ryan, the players’ heads had dropped.

“We hurled well for a long time in the first half and then we didn’t hurl in the second half,” said Ryan.

Carlow’s power and industry provided Laois with numerous problems in the first half and earned the underdogs a 0-7 to 0-6 interval lead, despite them having played into a very strong wind.

Laois goalkeeper and poc fada champion, Eoin Reilly sent his puckouts raining down behind the Carlow half-back line but the tactic paid no dividends, with Laois relying on Matthew Whelan from placed balls for four of their points.

At the other end, Denis Murphy contributed four points from similar opportunities, and Carlow were full value for their half time advantage, although Laois would have been very concerned by their seven wides in that initial period.

Their inaccuracy remained a feature of the tie, as they shot 10 more wides after the resumption, but crucially, they burst out of the traps after the resumption with 1-4 without reply.

Joe Fitzpatrick’s 40th minute goal was the critical score, as the midfielder – the game’s outstanding player – collected a handpass from Willie Hyland before unleashing a thunderous shot that gave Frank Foley no chance. Both sides hadpenalties saved and Reilly was forced into two smart saves from Robbie Foley and Doyle but Laois’ quarter-final date with Dublin never looked under serious threat.

“I’d describe it as a Jekyll and Hyde performance” said Laois boss, Niall Rigney afterwards. “Our first half was poor. We seemed to be very nervous on the ball. It’s our first championship game this year and we’re not used to the favourites tag if we’re honest about it.”

Rigney was delighted with the performance of midfielder, Joe Fitzpatrick, whose return to the panel after injury has been a significant boost. The Rathdowney/Errill clubman contributed 1-3 in the second half and Rigney couldn’t help but think of what might have been, had he been available for round 3 qualifier against Limerick last season.

“(He was) fantastic. If I’d have had a player of Joe’s calibre last year in Thurles that result could have been different. He’s a great player and it’s great to have him back this year.”

Scorers for Laois: J Fitzpatrick 1-3, M Whelan 0-4 (2, 65s, 2fs), T Fitzgerald 0-3, J Walsh, E Costelloe and J Brophy (all 0-1).

Scorers for Carlow: D Murphy 0-4 (3fs, 1 65), C Doyle 0-3, D Byrne 0-1

LAOIS: E Reilly; JA Delaney, C Healy, D Maher; B Campion, M Whelan , M McEvoy; J Fitzpatrick, J Walsh; W Hyland, C Delaney, E Costelloe0; 12 Z Keenan, T Fitzgerald , J Brophy.

Subs: J Purcell for Keenan (50); J Phelan for C Delaney (62); C Dunne for Maher (70); S Dollard for Walsh (70)

CARLOW: F Foley; A Corcoran, J Rogers, D Shaw; E Nolan, J Hickey, E Coady; M Brennan, D Byrne; D Murphy, S Kavanagh, E Byrne; D Roberts, C Doyle, A Gaule.

Subs: R Coady for Brennan blood (23-24); R Coady for Kavanagh (47); R Foley for Byrne (47); HP O’Byrne for Shaw (58); P Kehoe 0-2(1f) for Murphy (58); B Lawler for Roberts (66)

Referee: J McGrath (Westmeath) .

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