Laois 1-10 Carlow 0-9
Luke Dempsey has stepped down as Carlow manager after watching his side put in another gallant effort that ultimately ended up in defeat at O’Moore Park this evening.
For a while, it looked as if Dempsey would orchestrate a first victory for the county over Laois since 1988 but despite hitting the front ten minutes into the second half, they were not able to break down the hosts’ water-tight defence.
Instead, it was Laois that finished strongly and Michael John Tierney came off the bench to make a match-winning contribution for them as they eked out a very hard-earned victory.
The home team registered the game’s last five points and three of those came from the boot of Tierney, who came on for Colm Kelly with 20 minutes remaining.
Kelly played well in the first half, scoring two points and playing a key role in the fine move that led to John O’Loughlin’s 13th minute goal.
He had just missed a relatively straightforward free however, and in a game as tight as this one, Justin McNulty was not taking any chances.
Tierney landed a free not long after his introduction, while his conversion of a 40m effort from out on the right wing just over six minutes from time put two points between the sides for the first time in the second half.
He then followed up by drilling over very well from play and might well have done enough to earn a starting role in round 2.
In truth, this was a very uninspiring affair with little happening to get the meagre attendance excited.
It was Carlow who moved into an early lead, with pointed frees by Brian Murphy, JJ Smith and Daniel St Ledger.
Kelly had opened the scoring for the hosts with a good score from play and it was he who sent Damien O’Connor clear before the half-forward drew Carlow goalkeeper cleverly and off-loaded to O’Loughlin, who finished to the net from two yards.
O’Connor added a point and the indications were that Laois might begin to impose themselves.
That didn’t happen though, as Carlow continued to work hard and capitalise on a lack of discipline in the Laois defence.
Indeed Luke Dempsey’s charges didn’t manage their first score from play until Murphy curled over a delightful score in the 35th minute, and the same player still had time to convert a free, after tremendous work by Sean Gannon, before the sides went in level at the break, 0-7 to 1-4.
Ross Munnelly pointed from a free to edge Laois in front but St Ledger finished very well into the wind from play to level in the 38th minute.
Seven minutes later, St Ledger gathered possession brilliantly in the air and passed to Murphy 25m out. He jinked right and left before chipping his side into the lead in splendid fashion and the visiting support began to dream.
Despite having some gilt-edged opportunities, Carlow weren’t to score again however. Instead, it was Laois that finished the strongest as their opponents began to run out of steam.
The excellent O’Loughlin brought the sides level in the 54th minute, after Conor Lawlor had dispossessed Pádraig Clancy splendidly as the Laois full-forward bore down on goal.
That was the start of the Moores’ five-point turn. Tierney landed his trio expertly to put a goal between the sides, before Munnelly drew a foul in the fourth minute of injury time. There was time for David Conway to do the needful and that was the final act.
Laois: J O’Loughlin 1-1; MJ Tierney 0-3(fs); C Kelly 0-2(1f); D O’Connor, R Munnelly (f), B Quigley, D Conway(f) 0-1 each
Carlow: Brian Murphy 0-5(3fs); JJ Smith (fs), D St Ledger (1f) 0-2 each
Laois: E Culliton; C Healy, K Lillis, J Kavanagh; D Strong, C Begley, C Boyle; K Meaney, B Quigley; D O’Connor, J O’Loughlin, G Walsh; R Munnelly, P Clancy, C Kelly. Subs: D Conway for Walsh (29); P Cahillane for Strong (43); MJ Tierney for Kelly (50)
Carlow: T O’Reilly; P Murphy, C Lawlor, B Kavanagh; K Nolan, B Lambe, T Bolger; Brendan Murphy, D Foley; Brian Murphy, P Reid, E Ruth; JJ Smith, S Gannon, D St Ledger.Sub: P McElligott for P Murphy blood (48-54); D Hayden for Reid (57); K Jackson for Brian Murphy (62); McElligott for Bolger (70+2)
Referee: S Doyle (Wexford)