Waterford 2-22 Laois 1-15
By Daragh Ó Conchúir
Waterford had too much pace and power for Laois as they strode through to the next round of qualifiers with a commanding display at Walsh Park.
They got off to the worst possible start when conceding a goal after just 57 seconds to Neil Foyle but Pauric Mahony landed a monstrous point from inside his own 65m line and followed up from another placed ball to settle the hosts.
Laois responded with points from Stephen Maher (free) and Cha Dwyer but the Déise were level in the 10th minute though, when Shane Walsh received a pass from Colin Dunford and goaled from close range.
Kevin Moran laid the groundwork for Walsh’s second goal in the 22nd minute, but was denied twice by Eoin Reilly, before Walsh finished with a neat double.
Waterford followed up with five consecutive points. Darragh Fives started the run with a wonderful effort from inside his own half and wide on the right. Mahony added two scores from frees and Jake Dillon and Austin Gleeson made it 2-10 to 1-5 at half time.
The excellent Willie Hyland drove over two excellent points early in the second half but the venerable Seamus Prendergast – who was introduced late in the first half – hit back with a fantastic score.
Reilly denied Dillon a goal at the expense of a point as Waterford continued to turn the screw.
Mahony, Walsh and Gavin O’Brien opened the gap to 11 points, at 2-17 to 1-9, with 17 minutes remaining and it looked all over.
Laois deserve fantastic credit for their refusal to yield lightly though, showing further evidence of the remarkable progress they have made under ‘Cheddar’ Plunkett in the past two seasons.
Substitute John Purcell – introduced for his brother Paddy – was the catalyst for their best period, scoring two points as Laois hit five on the trot and suddenly the margin was six with 10 minutes still remaining.
The goal they needed didn’t come though, and never really looked like doing so.
Instead, Mahony brought his tally to 11 points with two more successful frees. Moran, who was magnificent throughout, landed an excellent point too as Waterford freewheeled home.
WATERFORD: S O’Keeffe; S Fives, L Lawlor, P Prendergast; D Fives (0-1), M Walsh, T de Burca; K Moran (0-1), S O’Sullivan; J Dillon (0-3), P Mahony (0-11, 10f), A Gleeson (0-1); R Donnelly, S Walsh (2-1), C Dunford (0-1). Subs: S Prendergast (0-1) for Donnelly (31), G O’Brien (0-2) for Gleeson (51), M O’Neill for S Walsh (64), J Nagle for O’Sullivan (67), R Foley for D Fives (68).
LAOIS: E Reilly; J.A. Delaney, B Campion, B Stapleton; J Fitzpatrick, M Whelan (0-2 65s), T Delaney; D Palmer, P Purcell; J Campion (0-1), W Hyland (0-5), S Maher (0-2f); N Foyle (1-0), C Dwyer (0-1), T Fitzgerald. Subs: J Walsh for J Campion, D Maher for Stapleton (both half-time), C Collier for Palmer (41), J Purcell (0-2) for P Purcell (51), R King (0-2f) for Maher (54).
Referee: A Kelly (Galway).