Laois 2-16 Tipperary 0-11
Justin McNulty’s Laois got their All-Ireland Championship back on track in impressive fashion this evening as they coasted to a comfortable victory over an outclassed Tipperary team at O’Moore Park.
The home team dominated from first whistle until last, and played some eye-pleasing football with players like Darren Strong, Colm Begley and Ross Munnelly to the fore.
MJ Tierney had been brought in from the cold after being left out of the Laois team that played Dublin, and he celebrated his return with the very first point of the match after just 25 seconds.
He knocked over a ’45 a couple of minutes later, and then another man making his first Championship start of the season, Donie Kingston, justified his selection with a sweet point from the right wing that put Laois three to the good.
Brian Grogan slotted over a free to get Tipperary off the mark, but must of the traffic was still moving in the other direction and Laois eased into a four point lead thanks to smartly taken scores from Colm Begley and Brendan Quigley.
Tipp were struggling to generate any sort of momentum and when Mulvihill knocked over his second free of the day, Laois promptly sailed down the field and stretched their lead further through points from Kingston (f) and the busy Ross Munnelly.
Up to this point the Laois tandem of Padraig Clancy and Brendan Quigley had been completely on top in midfield, but as Tipperary’s partnership of George Hannigan and Seamus Grogan grew with the game, so did their team.
Points from Johnny Cagney and Grogan (f) reduced the deficit to just three, and suddenly Laois were looking less sure of themselves.
But just when it seemed they were losing a grip on the game, Clancy claimed a high ball on the Tipp ’21 and hand-passed to the hard running Darren Strong who guided a well struck shot past Paul Fitzgerald.
Tipp hit back with a Philip Austin point but Munnelly ensured Laois would take a six point advantage into the dressing-room when he curled over a beauty just before the half-time whistle.
Tipp very nearly hauled themselves right back into it at the start of the second half when substitute Brian Coen slalomed through the Laois defence, but with just Eoin Culliton to beat he shot tamely.
George Hannigan did better when he knocked over a fine point a couple of minutes later, but that would be as things would get for Tipp in the second half as Laois set about taking a firm grip on the game.
Points from Kingston, Strong, Munnelly and Tierney nipped the chance of a Tipperary comeback neatly in the bud, and then Laois killed off their opponents entirely when they scored their second goal of the match.
The irrepressible Munnelly was the creator as he popped a perfect pass into the path of the charging Colm Begley who smashed an emphatic left-footed shot past Tipp ‘keeper Fitzgerald.
That goal put Laois 2-12 to 0-7 ahead and sucked much of the life out of the game. Tipp were never going to engineer a comeback from this position, and Laois could afford to relax.
Whenever Tipp did manager to string together a couple of scores, Laois simply put their foot on the gas again to maintain their advantage and in the final 15 minutes of the match coasted comfortably home.
Laois: D Strong 1-2, MJ Tierney 0-5 (3 45s), C Begley 1-1, R Munnelly 0-3, D Kingston 0-3 (2f), J O’Loughlin 0-2.
Tipperary: B Grogan 0-4 (all frees), B Mulvihill 0-2, G Hannigan, H Coghlan, S Grogan, J Cagney, P Austin all 0-1
Laois: E Culliton; C Healy, K Meaney, P O’Leary; D Strong, S Julian, P McMahon; P Clancy, B Quigley; C Begley, J O’Loughlin, N Donoher; R Munnelly, D Kingston, MJ Tierney. Subs: D Booth for P O’Leary (ht) , K Lillis for P Clancy (45), G Kavanagh for N Donoher (48), B Brennan for R Munnelly (60), D Carroll for D Kingston (63)
Tipperary: P Fitzgerald; C McGrath, C McDonald, A Morrissey; C Aylward, L Egan, D Dillon; G Hannigan, S Grogan; H Coghlan, B Fox, J Cagney; B Mulvhill, P Austin, B Grogan. Subs: B Coen for J Cagney, S Carey for C McGrath (both ht), N Curran for B Mulvihill (54), R Kiely for C Aylward (65), S Hahessy for H Coghlan (67)
Referee: M Condon (Waterford)