A first-half blitz from Laois saw them claim a crucial Allianz Hurling League Division 1B win over Offaly on Saturday night.
Eddie Brennan’s charges overwhelmed their neighbours in an irresistible first-half display, scoring 2-7 without reply during one spell and leading 2-13 to 0-6 at half-time.
Offaly looked bereft of hope and direction during that blitz but improved after the interval when they had the strong wind at their backs. Their second-half revival made things a bit more respectable, thanks to Joe Bergin’s fortuitous late goal from a free, but it only papered over the cracks.
The Laois half-back line dominated in the first half on the Offaly puck out, and they were sharper and more physical at crucial junctures of the game.
The opening stages saw tit-for-tat scoring until Paddy Murphy put Offaly ahead for the only time in the game, in the 13th minute. Laois then took charge.
From the resulting puck out the hosts stormed forward, Willie Dunphy was put through on goal, and he thundered a shot to the roof of the net. Aaron Dunphy followed it up with two long-range points and Laois were now up and running.
They pressed home their advantage when Paddy Purcell won possession from an Offaly puck out, fed Picky Maher and he in turn set up clubmate Willie Dunphy for his second goal.
The home side were flying now and points quickly followed from Maher (2), Aaron Dunphy and John Lennon.
They were 12 ahead with Offaly needing some inspiration from somewhere, and Bergin tried to provide it with a fine free.
Laois replied with a stunning point from Mark Kavanagh. The latter added two more frees either side of a Kevin Connolly effort, and that saw Laois lead 2-13 to 0-6 at half time.
The visitors made a triple-substitution at half time, and one of those introduced, Shane Dooley, opened the scoring for the second half with a free. Mark Kavanagh’s stunning sideline cut cancelled that out, but Offaly supporters finally had reason to cheer when Colm Gath found the bottom corner for a goal in the 38th minute.
That lifted the Offaly team and supporters and they chipped away at the Laois lead, with points from Joe Bergin and Mark Egan helping them get within seven.
However, a third Laois goal, from Stephen ‘Picky’ Maher, proved crucial in stalling the Offaly momentum.
The visitors kept plugging away, but Kavanagh’s accuracy from placed balls provided Laois with a few timely scores, and so rendered Bergin’s goal from a late free a mere consolation.
M Kavanagh 0-10 (0-8f, 0-1 sl), W Dunphy 2-0, S Maher 1-2, A Dunphy 0-3, J Lennon, E Lyons 0-1 each.
J Bergin 1-7 (1-6f), C Gath 1-0, S Dooley 0-3 (2f), M Egan 0-2, E Cahill (f), P Camon, K Connolly, P Murphy 0-1 each.
E Rowland; J Phelan, M Whelan, D Hartnett; J Kelly, R Mullaney, J Cranny; J Lennon, S Downey; A Dunphy, E Lyons, P Purcell; M Kavanagh, W Dunphy, S Maher.
M Dowling for W Dunphy (51), C Phelan for Lyons (64), E Gaughan for A Dunphy (68), L Burke for Cranny (70), P Delaney for Downey (72)
D Egan, P Murphy, C Egan; K Connolly, J Bergin, C Gath. Subs: K Dunne for D Egan (34 to HT, blood sub), S Dooley for D Egan (HT), S Dolan for Murphy (HT), A Treacy for Spain (HT), P Rigney for Grogan (51), K Dunne for Kinsella (68).
Alan Kelly (Galway)