Cork gain hard-fought triumph

Laois 0-13 Offaly 1-7, Portlaoise

Laois 0-13 Offaly 1-7, Portlaoise

Laois gained back-to-back Cadbury's Leinster Under-21 football titles at O'Moore Park this evening following a hard-fought 0-13 to 1-7 triumph over their midlands rivals Offaly.

A score-hungry Laois side were not exactly accurate in front of the posts in the opening half and with seven wides by the interval, they were certainly living dangerously.

However, the hosts were very much in control at that stage as they held a 0-6 to 1-1 lead but Laois manager Sean Dempsey would have been very much conscious that his side could and perhaps should have been out of sight.

Laois began the game very brightly thanks to points from David Conway and Donal Brennan within the opening eight minutes but a sudden lapse in concentration left them guilty of missed opportunities in front of the posts.

While at the opposite end, a strong full-back line of Brian Meredith, Mark Timmons and team captain Cahir Healy ensured that that Offaly forwards were kept at bay.

The visitors opened their account in the 23rd-minute, with a Thomas Coughlan point, and they were gifted a lifeline when half-forward Sean Ryan of Birr found the net three minutes later.

Laois finished the half strongly with a Craig Rogers point which gave them a two-point buffer at the interval.

Offaly were a stronger force in the second half and points arrived from Thomas Coughlan, Ken Casey and Stephen Lonergan.

Laois could only add two scores to their tally, leaving the gap at the minimum as the game entered the final quarter.

The visitors looked to have levelled in the 38th-minute when Niall Smith sent the ball between the posts, but the midfielder was adjudged to have picked the ball off the ground by referee Pat Fox and tellingly, just moments later, Laois went two points clear thanks to a third Michael Tierney point.

The O'Moore county youngsters continued to live dangerously in the closing stages with the sides trading points on two occasions, but a fifth point from senior panellist Tierney copper-fastened the win and Laois' eighth provincial title at the age grade.

Laois: C Munnelly; C Healy, M Timmons, B Meredith; S Lalor (0-1), J O'Loughlin, N Donoher; B Quigley, C Sg Greene; C Rogers (0-2), S O'Neill, S O'Leary; MJ Tierney (0-5, 4f, 1 '45'), D Brennan (0-3), D Conway (0-2).

Subs used: I Fleming for O'Leary (48 mins), K Smith for Donoher (52).

Offaly: D Bracken; G Grehan, R Dalton, E Byrne; S Lonergan (0-1), P McConway, J Keane; N Smith, C Mahon; N Darby, R Connor, S Ryan (1-0); W Mulhall, T Coughlan (0-2), K Casey (0-4, 4f).

Subs used: J Rafferty for Darby (40 mins), A Lynam for Connor (55), G Hickey for Mulhall (60).

Referee: Pat Fox (Westmeath)

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