Offaly hit Laois for four winning goals at O'Moore Park

Offaly 4-22 Laois 2-12

Offaly 4-22 Laois 2-12

Goals win games and Offaly hit Laois for four at a sunny O'Moore Park in Portlaoise this afternoon as they swept through to the Leinster SHC semi-finals.

Goals win games and Offaly hit Laois for four at a sunny O'Moore Park in Portlaoise this afternoon as they swept through to the Leinster SHC semi-finals.

Offaly, who are through to face reigning All-Ireland champions Kilkenny, had a three-goal interval advantage over their neighbours and there was little hope of a Laois comeback.

However, the O'Moore men failed to lose their heads and two superbly struck frees by Ballacolla attacker Willie Hyland gave the home support something to shout about as he netted two late goals.

Joe Dooley's Offaly side made the best of the opening half, with that hat-trick of goals helping them to a 3-8 to 0-8 interval lead.

Midfielder Conor Mahon and half-forwards Dylan Hayden and Ger Healion blasted majors past Laois goalkeeper Patrick Mullaney.

It was a battle of the free-takers in the opening half, Laois' debutant at left corner forward, Noel Costelloe, blasting over six points from placed balls, while his Offaly counterpart Brian Carroll also hit six.

However the Coolderry man kept his efforts going in the second half and finished with a fine haul of 16 points, four points more than the Laois' overall tally at the finish.

Laois were simply outclassed in a lot of sectors. The absence of key players James Young, Matthew Whelan, John O'Loughlin, Cahir Healy and Zane Keenan certainly did little for their cause.

To their credit, Laois failed to wilt and although their manager Damien Fox expressed his disappointment, after the game, at such a comprehensive loss, he still pointed to positives in the shape of Hyland and Costelloe.

Fox's charges failed to capitalise on breaking ball and it took them 28 minutes to take their first score from play when Costelloe converted his fifth point.

That strike left 11 points between the sides as Offaly held a 3-7 to 0-5 lead, with their goals coming in the third, 14th and 22nd minutes.

Indeed, it was a goal from midfielder Mahon which kick-started the scoring as Offaly looked the part right from the off.

The hosts tried hard with Hyland scoring the final point of the half - his second of the contest from open play.

But RTE man-of-the-match Carroll was unquestionably the game's star player. He hit three points without reply in a six-minute spell after the break as his side claimed a 12-point lead.

Laois just about kept in touch but when centre-forward Ger Healion notched Offaly's fourth goal, there was only going to be one winner.

The hosts fought on thanks to the efforts of Hyland and Costello.

But with the introduction and quick scoring of Shane Dooley, son of Offaly manager Joe, along with the continued scoring presence of Carroll, the men in green, white and gold easily set up a semi-final clash with Kilkenny at the same venue on June 15.

OFFALY: B Mullins; D Franks, G Oakley, M Verney; D Horan, D Kenny, K Brady; J Rigney, C Mahon (1-0); D Hayden (1-1), G Healion (1-0), D Molloy (1-0); B Carroll (0-16, 0-11f, 0-1 '65'), P Cleary (0-1), B Murphy (0-1).

Subs used: S Ryan for Mahon, S Dooley (0-2) for Murphy (both 58 mins), A Egan (0-1) for Hayden (61), C Hernon for Verney (63), J Bergin for Healion (65).

LAOIS: P Mullaney; JA Delaney, B Campion, C Dunne; J Fitzpatrick, J Phelan, C Coonan; James Walsh, C Delaney; E Browne, E Holohan, W Hyland (2-3, 2-0f); J Brophy, T Fitzgerald, N Costelloe (0-9, 0-7f).

Subs used: N Holmes for Holohan (41 mins), J Rowney for Browne (47), J Dooley for Brophy (60).

Referee: John Ryan (Tipperary)

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