Laois ‘second-best in every department’ as Kildare get needed win

This should have been the most awkward of house calls for a Kildare side that has found form to be a fleeting companion this spring but Laois ultimately proved to be the most welcoming of neighbours.
Laois ‘second-best in every department’ as Kildare get needed win
STRIDING CLEAR: Kildare full-forward Daniel Flynn holds off the challenge of Laois defender Trevor Collins in yesterday’s Allianz FL clash at MW Hire O’Moore Park.  	Picture: Sean Brilly
STRIDING CLEAR: Kildare full-forward Daniel Flynn holds off the challenge of Laois defender Trevor Collins in yesterday’s Allianz FL clash at MW Hire O’Moore Park. Picture: Sean Brilly

Laois 0-10 - Kildare 0-15

This should have been the most awkward of house calls for a Kildare side that has found form to be a fleeting companion this spring but Laois ultimately proved to be the most welcoming of neighbours.

The midlanders gave their old rivals the run of their place and it allowed the visitors to pop back across the border with their Division Two survival prospects looking so much healthier than when they had arrived.

Kildare must love the sight of those blue and white jerseys by now. Laois have beaten them just once in the last decade having met a plethora of times in both league and championship. Some of those games have been blow-outs. Never mind the scoreboard, this one was in that same bracket.

Jack O’Connor’s side registered 21 misses here between efforts that fell wide or short of their target. You could argue that Laois spurned a couple of goal chances but this was mostly one-way traffic for the winners and a car crash of an effort for the losers.

The two league points are, ultimately, all that mattered.

Laois could have turned their thoughts towards a late and unlikely promotion push if they had won here. Now they face the prospect of two away trips in the last couple of rounds and with the spectre of relegation still following them into the month of March.

Go down and their season is in deep peril given they have been stationed on the same side of the Leinster Championship draw as Dublin. Fail to make a provincial final and the Tailteann Cup, as the second-tier championship has now been labelled, would await.

Division Three is still a live prospect for Kildare too. On four points now, they are one adrift of Mike Quirke’s Laois, but they did more than enough yesterday to suggest that they are well capable of edging themselves clear of trouble and not least because they finish with a pair of home games.

“Points are hard-earned in this division and we badly needed the points today,” said O’Connor. “The lads were very determined. They might have left their shooting boots at home at times but in general they fought very hard and showed a very good attitude.”

Laois should have smelt blood. This should have been an opportunity to grind their neighbours’ noses in the dirt. Or, given the conditions, the mud even if the pitch stood up well given to a game that was pushed back from Saturday evening to yesterday lunchtime on account of Storm Jorge

It was Kildare who attacked from the off. Four unanswered points in the first four minutes established the script and, like Cavan in this same venue a fortnight ago, they dominated Laois from first whistle to last.

That in itself was a clear sign of progress. Kildare had shot seven consecutive points after a dodgy start against Roscommon the week before but then had the stuffing knocked out of them by a goal and eventually went down to a four-point defeat.

Then again, Laois aren’t at Roscommon’s level even if they snatched a draw up in the Hyde in round one.

They were routed in the middle third here and Kildare’s dominance spread from there to every corner of the field. Three of their first seven scores were products of a Laois player being dispossessed in their own third while the same number of attempts at the other end were blocked by a defender’s arms in the opening credits.

Kildare led by eight points to four at the break, despite their all too frequent failings in front of the posts. That was actually a result of sorts for Laois given the way the period had unfolded and they could have found further succour in the goal chances that fell to Evan O’Carroll and Eoin Lowry in the course of the second quarter.

If they did take encouragement from that then it must have been quashed in a third quarter that came and went with little or nothing of note happening and just three points registered between the pair of them. Kildare won’t have been bothered, it was Laois who needed to make things happen.

The game as a contest simply faded away in that spell. It was only Laois’ late burst, when they scored five of the last seven points in the last dozen minutes of play, that gave the scoreboard any illusion of something akin to a contest.

“They were much the better team,” said Quirke, whose side have now been well beaten in their last two home games. “Whether it was five points or 10 points it doesn’t matter. We were much the second-best team in the game.

“We didn’t play well. They dominated our kickouts and we had too many turnovers and we didn’t play well. Regardless of what the scoreboard says, we are under no illusions that we were second-best in every department.”

Scorers for Laois: E O’Carroll (0-4, 0-2 frees); N Corbet (0-2 frees); S Flynn and B Byrne, K Lillis and J O’Loughlin (all 0-1).

Scorers for Kildare: A Tyrrell (0-4, 0-3 frees); P Brophy (0-3); P Cribbin (0-2); K Feely (0-2, 0-1 free); K Flynn, L Power, N Kelly and N Flynn (all 0-1).

LAOIS: N Corbet; T Collins, R Pigott, G Hanrahan; S O’Flynn, P O’Sullivan, M Timmons; J O’Loughlin, K Lillis; S Byrne, E Lowry, D O’Connor; R Munnelly, C Murphy, E O’Carroll.

Subs: M Berry for O’Connor (42); M Keogh for Munnelly (46); B Carroll for Murphy and G Walsh for Lowry (both 55); B Byrne for S Byrne (68);

KILDARE: M Donnellan; M O’Grady, S Ryan, E Doyle; D Aylward, C Kavanagh, K Flynn; K Feely, T Moolick; L Power, P Cribbin, P Brophy; A Tyrrell, D Flynn,N Kelly.

Subs: C Hartley for Power (48); K Cribbin for P Cribbin (56); J Robinson for Kelly (64); J Hyland for Flynn (68); N Flynn for Tyrrell (7);

Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan).

The game in 60 seconds

SIXTY SECONDS

Key moment: Laois should have been primed to tear into a Kildare side so low on league points from the off. Instead, they allowed the visitors to build a solid foothold in the form of four unanswered points and, with that, he tone was set.

Talking point: Originally slated for a 7pm throw-in on Saturday night,the game was pushed back to yesterday lunchtime and, after a heavy hailstorm before throw-in, the weather and the pitch stood up to the task.

Good day: Los this one and Kildare would have been stuck behind the black ball in terms of the fight against relegation so this gives them momentum and hope that Division Three can be avoided in 2021.

Bad day: Laois have blown hot and cold in Division Two so far and this was one of their off days. Kildare won by five but could have won by ten or 15. Mike Quirke is a collected presence on the sideline, just as well on days like this.

Sidleine smarts: Kildare area team that can do lots of things right but they simply can't afford to be so profligate in front of goals. Knowing when, where and how to shoot is a tactic in itself and it's one they have to do so much better.

Ref watch: Hurling was awash with complaints last week about referees who were too pernickety. Well, Joe McQuillan turned a blind eye here time and again to players who clearly took a number of steps too many with ball in hand.

Key man: Maybe key men would do this one more justice. Kildare dominated the middle third so kudos to their midfield pairing of Kevin Feely and Tommy Moolick in that sense. Brilliant shift from both of them.

Next up: Cavan make the trip to Newbridge on Sunday week. Laois make the journey to Mullingar for a midland derby with Westmeath.

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