Kildare 0-11 Laois 0-8
Seven players were sent off as Kildare booked their place in the semi-final of the O’Byrne Cup with victory over old rivals Laois in an ill-tempered affair at Portlaoise.
Five of those walked following the eruption of an ugly melee in the 31st minute.
Laois’ Kevin Meaney, Billy Sheehan and Peter O’Leary received their marching orders from referee Syl Doyle, along with Kildare duo Johnny Doyle and Morgan O’Flaherty.
Seasoned observers struggled to remember the last occasion five players were dismissed at the same time in an inter-county game but the fact is that at least a couple of others were lucky to escape the ultimate sanction.
Hostilities broke out as referee Doyle delayed a throw-in and escalated once play got under way.
By the time the Wexford official had finally restored order, only Kildare goalkeeper, Shane McCormack, hadn’t converged on the Laois 20m line.
The atmosphere was nasty thereafter and it was no surprise when Laois full-back Denis Booth was red-carded on the advice of the umpires for striking Dermot Earley.
That gave Kildare a two-man advantage but it was 12 against 11 two minutes from the end of normal time when Pádraig O’Neill was sent off on a second yellow card.
Having been the better team for most of the game, one might have expected Kildare to exert a greater influence on proceedings with their numerical advantage.
Although they didn’t make that superiority count on the scoreboard, butchering a number of goal opportunities in the second half, they were comfortable throughout.
In truth, it was men against boys in the physical stakes, with Laois turning over possession regularly in the tackle.
The hosts were toothless in attack, failing to manage even one score from play. Michael Tierney kicked their entire tally of eight points, with seven of those coming from frees and one from a 45.
Two of those frees gave Laois a perfect start but with the ageless Anthony Rainbow and David Whyte influential, Kildare scored five on the trot and were never in trouble thereafter.
A couple of Tierney frees left it at 0-7 to 0-5 at the break but the impressive Rob Kelly and Whyte kept the scoreboard ticking over to ensure that Kildare advanced to the final four.
Kildare: S McCormack; A Mac Lochlainn, G White, E Bolton; M O’Flaherty 0-1, B Flanagan, A Rainbow; D Flynn, D Earley 0-1; R Kelly, J Doyle 0-3(fs), D Whyte 0-2; R Walsh 0-4(3fs), R Sweeney, K Cribben. Subs: P O’Neill for Sweeney (50); K Brennan for Flynn (65); D Lyons for Rainbow (66)
Laois: C Gorman; J Scully, D Booth, P McMahon; D Strong, C Ryan, N Donoher; B Quigley, C Óg Greene; K Meaney, C Bergin, B Sheehan; MJ Tierney 0-8(7fs, 1 45), D Lowry, C Coss. Subs: P O’Leary for Lowry (27). Subs: P O’Leary for Lowry (27); C Begley for Bergin (ht); K Smith for Coss (54); D Murphy for Strong (54); D Miller for Greene (65)
Referee: S Doyle (Wexford)