Walsh point ensures honours even at O'Moore Park

Laois 1-17 Louth 2-14

Walsh point ensures honours even at O'Moore Park

Laois 1-17 Louth 2-14

A 68th minute Gary Walsh point ensured Laois shared the spoils with Louth after an entertaining draw in Division 2 of the Allianz NFL at O'Moore Park, Portlaoise tonight.

Louth looked on target for victory, holding a five-point lead entering the final quarter, but Laois never gave up.

Louth started strongly and led by 0-6 to 0-2 after 20 minutes, but Laois aided by a John O'Loughlin goal broke ahead before the break.

However, a Brian White point tied the game at 0-9 to 1-6 at the interval.

Louth looked dangerous on the restart and aided by goals from Andy McDonnell and Kevin Rogers took a 2-13 to 1-11 lead entering the final quarter.

However, Laois failed to give up and bounced back to level the game late on through Gary Walsh.

Although Brian White put Louth ahead with his fourth point, Laois had time to force the equaliser as Walsh bagged his sixth score.

Both sides made one change to their starting line-up's from those announced midweek.

Laois boss Justin McNulty opting to start MJ Tierney in place of Padraig Clancy at full-forward, while Ronan Carroll replaced Conor McGuinness in the Louth defence.

Both sides began this game in a strong fashion, eager to lay down an early marker with Louth's Shane Lennon and Laois's Billy Sheehan trading points in the opening stages.

Defences were under huge pressure in the opening 10 minutes, with both Laois and Louth having goal chances snuffed out.

Lennon with a goal chance in the opening minute, but the Laois defence proved resolute while Sheehan also had a chance for Louth's goalmouth to be breached, but his effort finished in the hands of Louth goalkeeper Neil Gallagher.

Conor Boyle and Colm Coss with the initial good work, with Mountmellick clubman Coss denied by Gallagher, before Sheehan's effort was also blocked.

Laois took the lead thanks to a Ross Munnelly pointed free, but Louth dug deep as scores from Kevin Rogers, Ronan Carroll and Derek Crilly saw the visitors take a 0-5 to 0-2 lead entering the second quarter.

Sheehan had another goal chance for Laois soon after, but the Kerry native hit the post, while Louth extended their lead to four points, with Lennon once again on target at the opposite end.

Laois edged their way back into this game thanks to scores from Colm Begley, Munnelly and Tierney.

A second Rogers point gave Louth a 0-8 to 0-5 lead in the 30th minute, but Laois always looked goal hungry and they eventually breached the Wee County goalmouth.

Coss once again involved in a goal-scoring opportunity as he laid the ball off to his former club colleague John O'Loughlin.

O'Loughlin smashing the ball to the back of the net to tie the game at 1-5 to 0-8.

Laois held firm momentum at this stage and a second Begley point gave the hosts the lead approaching the break.

However, Louth forced a 45 metre free after good pressure on Laois keeper Eoin Culliton, with White subsequently converting the place-kick to tie the contest at 0-9 to 1-6 at the break.

Louth turned this game around on the restart with an Andy McDonnell goal coupled with an Adrian Reid point pushed the visitors 1-10 to 1-6 in front.

Gary Walsh responded with a Laois point, but Louth were clinical with a White pointed free ensured a three-point lead.

McNulty opted for a change in the O'Moore's defence with dual player Cahir Healy introduced for Darren Strong, with the Portlaoise man coming in at full-back, while upfront Colm Kelly replaced Coss.

Louth lost Shane Lennon through injury at this stage, and this proved to be a major blow; as at the opposed end Laois once again found their range in front of the posts.

Tierney and Munnelly with scores to cut the gap to the minimum in the 47th minute.

However, Louth kept on top with White registering yet another point, before Rogers ensured a second green flag for Louth in the 52nd minute.

Gerard Hoey feeding Adrian Reid, with Rogers gathering possession and leaving Laois keeper Eoin Culliton with no chance to ensure a 2-13 to 1-11 lead.

Walsh, O'Loughlin and Munnelly kept Laois in touch to cut the gap to the minimum with eight minutes remaining.

Laois kept up the pressure and drew parity thanks to a fifth point of the half from Walsh.

White placed Louth ahead once more with four minutes left on the clock, but again Ballylinan clubman Walsh kept his cool to level the tie.

Laois had a chance to snatch a winner late on, but Tierney failed to slot the ball over the cross-bar after coming under pressure from the Louth backs, as the sides shared the spoils.

Scorers for Laois: G Walsh (1f) 0-6; J O'Loughlin 1-2; R Munnelly (2f) 0-4; C Begley, MJ Tierney (1 '45) 0-2 each; B Sheehan 0-1.

Louth: K Rogers (2f) 1-3; B White (2f, 1 '45) 0-4; A McDonnell 1-1; S Lennon 0-3; R Carroll, D Crilly, A Reid 0-1 each.

LAOIS: E Culliton; D Booth, M Timmons, P O'Leary; D Strong, J O'Loughlin, C Boyle; B Quigley, K Meaney; R Munnelly, C Coss, C Begley; B Sheehan, MJ Tierney, G Walsh. Subs: C Healy for Strong; C Kelly for Coss; P McMahon for Meaney.

LOUTH: N Gallagher; R Carroll, D Finnegan, G Hoey; J O'Brien, D Crilly, A Reid; P Keenan, M Fanning; A McDonnell, B Donnelly, B White; P Smith, S Lennon, K Rogers. Subs: D Maguire for Smith; C McGuinness for Fanning; C Rafferty for Lennon; D Clarke for Carroll; D Reid for Rogers.

Referee: Padraig O'Sullivan (Kerry)

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