Laois 4-15 Kerry 4-9, Gaelic Grounds
Laois ran out 4-15 to 4-9 winners over Kerry in yesterday's National Hurling League Division Two quarter-final at the Gaelic Grounds, to set up a meeting with Westmeath in the last-four.
Laois looked to be cruising to victory when they blitzed Kerry early on in this tie. Four first-half goals had them leading 4-6 to 1-3 at the interval.
But some shrewd changes during and after the interval brought Kerry back into contention. However, their late goal by John Mike Dooley - his third of the game - came too little, too late, and Laois saw out the closing minutes to progress.
Kerry, who qualified after a surprise win over Kildare last weekend, were hit by a Laois goal inside a minute. Tommy Fitzgerald ghosted past static some Kerry defenders and hammered the sliotar low past John Healy.
The Kingdom were being badly exposed in their full-back line and despite two Mike Slattery frees, it was Laois that dominated despite shooting nine first half wides.
The midlanders' goals followed from Jason Phelan, Matt Whelan and John Brophy. Dooley finished a Mike Conway cross to the net for his and Kerry's first major.
Kerry upped the tempo in the opening ten minutes of the second half, scoring three unanswered points, two from Slattery and one from Dooley, but Phelan kept Laois in front with a couple of fine points.
Then Kerry struck for a 44th-minute goal when Dooley finished 'soccer style' to the net and then he saw two close-in frees being saved by Padraig O'Maoileanaigh in the Laois goal.
However, Laois were the craftier side as they tacked on some fine points from Phelan (2), Whelan (2), James Young and Fitzgerald, with one each, as Kerry simply shot too many wides.
The Munster side showed admirable fighting qualities - a late goal from Dooley completed his hat-trick while Jason Casey scored a point, but Laois, for their first half dominance, deserved the win.
LAOIS: P O'Maoileanaigh; B Campion, B Ferns, K Fitzpatrick; J Fitzpatrick (0-2), J Young (0-1), J Walsh; J Phelan, M McEvoy (0-1); W Hyland, M Whelan (1-4), J Brophy (1-0); P Russell (0-1), T Fitzgerald (1-2), J Phelan (1-4).
Subs used: S Dollard for Ferns, JJ McHugh for Brophy, S Dwyer for Hyland, E Jackman for Phelan.
KERRY: J Healy; J Griffin, L Boyle (1-0), A O'Connor; B O'Sullivan, M Quilter, C Harris; J Casey (0-1), M Lynch; A Keane, G O'Brien, I McCarthy; M Slattery (0-5, 5f), JM Dooley (3-1), M Conway (0-1).
Subs used: B Blackwell for O'Connor, J Egan (0-1) for Lynch, M Boyle for McCarthy.