Laois go extra mile to join Kerry in last four

LAOIS boss Joe Higgins hailed the resilience of his players following their dramatic TG4 All-Ireland Ladies SFC quarter-final victory over Tyrone in Birr on Saturday.

Leinster champions Laois sent last year’s beaten All-Ireland finalists crashing out of the championship with a tense 1-17 to 2-12 extra-time victory.

Tyrone had salvaged a 2-10 to 1-13 draw at the end of the regulation hour with a point from sub Eilish Gormley.

The sides were still deadlocked at half-time in extra-time before Tyrone’s Gemma Begley missed a penalty and Laois closed the game out with frees from Tracey Lawlor and the superb Mary Kirwan, who finished with eight points.

The O’Moore County’s victory has secured an All-Ireland semi-final appearance for a second successive year and Higgins, a former Leinster SFC winner with Laois, reflected: “There’s a great bit of stuff in them. They’ve done it before. I’ve been involved for the last two years and on the end of scorelines like that going in at half-time (Laois trailed by 0-7 to 2-8). The girls know that they’re able to dig out results, it’s just a matter of getting out and doing it.”

And Higgins suspected that there may have been some divine intervention at play when Begley dragged her penalty wide of the target in the second period of extra-time. A goal then would have sent Tyrone two points clear and Higgins revealed: “Joe Dunne lost his mother this morning. He’s on the management team and should have been here. He works an awful lot with our goalkeeper (Ciamh Dollard) and I was thinking that if his mother is looking down on us, she (Dollard) will either save it or it’ll go wide. She must have been looking down on us.”

Beaten Munster finalists Kerry booked a place in the semi-finals for the second successive year. The Kingdom ran out comprehensive winners by ten points against the Connacht champions, 3-11 to 0-10.

Mayo had a seven-point haul from Cora Staunton but the Westerners, who trailed by 0-6 to 1-6 at half-time, managed just a single point from play in the second half, scored by substitute Amy Bell.

For Kerry Deirdre Corridan, a late call-up in place of Maria Quirke, caught the eye with a haul of 1-2.

But it was Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh’s goal in the 22nd minute that put some breathing space between the teams in the opening half, helping Kerry to lead by three points at the break.

Five minutes after half-time, Lorraine Scanlon was credited with Kerry’s second goal as she got the faintest of touches to divert the ball past Byrne.

And in the 46th minute, Corridan made the game safe for Kerry with her side’s third goal and again, it was a flowing move from William O’Sullivan’s team that cut through Mayo.

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