Laois come back to progress in qualifiers

Leitrim 1-11 Laois 1-13

Laois come back to progress in qualifiers

Leitrim 1-11 Laois 1-13

Leitrim could not repeat their heroics of the previous round as Laois overhauled them for an All-Ireland SFC qualifier win at Carrick-on-Shannon.

Laois kicked 18 wides but did enough to pull through having trailed 1-8 to 1-5 at half-time, with Kevin Conlon and Conor Boyle swapping goals.

But Leitrim could only add three more points after the break as MJ Tierney, Ross Munnelly and Colm Begley shot the visitors to a comeback victory.

There were late changes for both teams with Padraig McMahon replacing Darren Strong in the Laois half-back line and Gerry Hickey stepping in at left half-forward for Leitrim.

Following their historic first ever qualifier win over Wicklow in the last round, Leitrim were hoping to cause another upset and reach the dizzying heights of round 4.

Although Laois opened the scoring after two minutes thanks to a Gary Walsh point from play, there was much to satisfy the home support in the opening 35 minutes.

The sides were level on three occasions in the opening 21 minutes, with Emlyn Mulligan, the top scorer against Wicklow, leading the charge for the hosts.

There was a change of referees after Rory Hickey picked up an injury in the 15th minute and Fermanagh official Martin Higgins came on in his place.

Laois dominated possession with Brendan Quigley, Billy Sheehan and Damien O'Connor showing strongly, but they failed to turn this into scores.

The O'Moore men were made pay for their struggles in front of the posts when Conlon netted Leitrim's only goal in the 23rd minute, with Páirc Seán Mac Diarmada erupting with noise.

Conlon left defender Jamie Kavanagh trailing in his wake as he set off on a powerful solo run which ended with a well-executed shot that gave Laois goalkeeper Eoin Culliton no chance.

The strike gave the home side huge confidence and they built on this with three of the next four points - all from the boot of Mulligan - to take a 1-7 to 0-5 lead by the 35th minute.

Laois boss Justin McNulty required more from his side and they certainly answered his call, but only after a bit of luck came the midlanders' way.

Substitute MJ Tierney's point attempt dropped short but Leitrim goalkeeper Cathal McCrann failed to control the ball and Conor Boyle got onto the breaking ball and stuck it in the back of the net.

The margin was down to two, however Leitrim responded just before the break with a Ray Cox point.

Laois stormed out of the blocks on the restart, but found it hard to make their huge dominance in the possession stakes show on the scoreboard.

Quigley and Colm Begley were effective at midfield, but up front Tierney, Munnelly and Padraig McMahon sent a number of scoring chances wide of the target.

The second half scoring deadlock was eventually broken nine-and-a-half minutes in when Begley fired over. Sheehan cut the gap to the minimum in the 46th minute, but Leitrim were effective with their limited possession at this stage.

Goal scorer Conlon latched on to a sideline ball from Mulligan and slotted the ball over with the Dromahair clubman pushing the Division 4 side 1-9 to 1-7 ahead.

Nevertheless, Leitrim could only add two further points to their tally over the remaining 21 minutes as McNulty's men rediscovered the sort of form that sent Monaghan packing last time out.

Munnelly, Kelly and Tierney registered four unanswered points between them as Laois moved 1-11 to 1-9 ahead by the 56th minute.

Mulligan responded with his sixth point - and Leitrim's first in 12 minutes - but no matter what his side threw at Laois in the closing stages, the visitors seemed well able to cope.

They had to endure a nervy finish though as they struck six wides in the closing eight minutes. However, they had enough of the ball to run out deserving winners as Tierney's 70th-minute point confirmed their progress.

Laois know they will need to step it up next weekend as they will be facing the losers of tomorrow's Leinster SFC final between Dublin and Meath.

Scorers - Leitrim: E Mulligan 0-6 (0-6f), K Conlon 1-2, R Cox 0-2, C Clarke 0-1

Laois: C Boyle 1-0, R Munnelly 0-3, C Kelly (0-1f), MJ Tierney (0-2f), C Begley 0-2 each, B Sheehan, P Clancy 0-1 each

LEITRIM: C McCrann; A Wynne, F McMorrow, P Maguire; C Clarke, E Williams, D Beck; D Sweeney, S Moran; P Brennan, E Mulligan, G Hickey; R Cox, J Glancy, K Conlon.

Subs used: R Lowe for Moran, C Ryan for Brennan (both 58 mins), B McDonald for Conlon (63), K Conlon for Glancy (65).

LAOIS: E Culliton; C Healy, K Meaney, J Kavanagh; P McMahon, J O'Loughlin, C Boyle; B Quigley, C Begley; R Munnelly, B Sheehan, G Walsh; D O'Connor, P Clancy, C Kelly.

Subs used: P O'Leary for Kavanagh (23 mins), MJ Tierney for O'Connor (31), D Strong for McMahon (58), D Conway for Kelly (60), D O'Connor for Sheehan (68);

Referees: Rory Hickey (Clare)/Martin Higgins (Fermanagh)

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