Laois 1-13 Tipperary 1-11
Laois withstood a brave second half comeback from Division 2 newcomers Tipperary to claim their first brace of points in a dramatic encounter at O’Moore Park.
The home side got off to an ideal start with early points from MJ Tierney and Donie Kingston. Seán Dempsey’s men clearly held the upper hand over their opponents in most sectors of the field but took some time to push home their advantage.
The rapidly descending fog certainly made it difficult for both sets of players, particularly with the temperatures falling at an equivalent rate.
Paul Lawlor and Kingston (free) did double Laois’ advantage while Tipperary missed two reasonable scoring opportunities from frees. Niall Donoher clipped over after a powerful run and pass by Pádraig McMahon before Tierney billowed the net in the 28th minute with a powerful shot.
Tipperary finally opened their account in the 30th minute thanks to a pointed free from Barry Grogan and though Philip Austin finished neatly before the break, Laois added four more points from Tierney (two, one free), Kingston and Cathal Óg Greene to lead by 1-9 to 0-2 at half time.
John Evans tried everything to stem the tide and had three substitutions made by the start of the second half.
Matters improved considerably after the resumption as George Hannigan helped gain a foothold around the middle.
As a result, the visitors kicked seven of the next eight points to cut the deficit to five. Grogan provided four of those, with three coming from frees, while Hannigan, Conor Sweeney and Peter Acheson also got on the mark.
Lawlor stopped the rot with a nice score but when influential sub Sweeney bundled the ball over the line for a goal in the 58th minute, the game was well and truly on.
Sweeney was on fire and a couple of points in as many minutes, including one sensational effort from 45m, had the sides level with eight minutes still remaining.
Laois finally responded to the onslaught though, with quick points in rapid succession from the impressive Greene and sub Donal Miller.
They had to undergo one final scare when Seamus Grogan was presented with an opportunity to snatch a winner but shot wildly across the face of goal and Laois held on.
Laois: C Gorman; J Scully, C Ryan, P McMahon; D Strong, J O’Loughlin, C Begley; B Quigley, C Óg Greene 0-3; C Coss, P Lawlor 0-2, N Donoher 0-1; MJ Tierney 1-3(0-1f), D Kingston 0-3(1f), A Doran. Subs: M Timmons for Scully (45); R Munnelly for Doran (47); D Miller 0-1 for Coss (62)
Tipperary: P Fitzgerald; C Morrissey, N Curran, C McDonald, ; C Aylward, R Costigan, C McGrath; G Hannigan 0-1, A Rockett; S Carey, P Austin 0-1, B Coen; S Hahessy, S Grogan, B Grogan 0-5(4fs). Subs: P Acheson 0-1 for Hahessy (28); H Coghlan for McGrath (35); C Sweeney 1-3 for Coen (ht); J Cagney for Austin (60); C Dillon for Rockett (66)
Referee: P Fox (Westmeath)