Ben Conroy inspires Laois victory over Carlow

Laois 1-17 Carlow 1-14: Laois half-time substitute Ben Conroy made an instant impact at Netwatch Cullen Park yesterday, scoring 1-2 in the opening minutes of the second half as Seamus ‘Cheddar’ Plunkett’s side stormed into an eight-point lead which Carlow were unable to claw back, despite a brave late rally in this Leinster SHC Round Robin tie.

This was a championship game low in quality. The tricky wind made good hurling difficult but hardly explained the inordinate number of sideline cuts produced over the course of the game.

It was pretty much score for score in the opening half, with the visitors establishing a two-point interval lead of 0-7 to 0-5. The half was a tale of the two free-takers, Laois midfielder Zane Keenan and Carlow’s Marty Kavanagh. Generally both defences were on top with neither full-forward line able to make any significant impact. The only score from play from either inside’s starting division was Seán Murphy’s point on the hour mark.

The game turned in favour of Laois in the opening minutes of the second half. A Zane Keenan point from a free was supplemented by another from Conroy. Then in the 39th minute a low trajectory free from Keenan caused confusion in the Carlow defence and Conroy scrambled the ball to the net.

Laois, buoyed by those scores went on to dominate and were a clear 1-15 to 0-7 ahead by the 54th minute.

Carlow finished strongly, picking off a succession of points before the rangy Eddie Byrne kicked a goal just as the game was about to enter injury-time. While there was a glimpse of a levelling goal, a confident save from Laois netminder Enda Rowland saw Laois home.

Overall, this was a lacklustre championship tie but there was one memorable score when Carlow midfielder Denis Byrne cut a long-range line-ball straight between the Laois posts.

This was the 13th championship meeting between these two sides and Laois are now 10-3 ahead.

Scorers for Laois:

Z Keenan 0-10, 0-9 frees, B Conroy 1-3, C Dwyer 0-2, S Maher, P J Scully 0-1 each.

Scorers for Carlow:

M Kavanagh 0-6, all frees, E Byrne 1-1, J Kavanagh 0-2, D Byrne 0-2, 0-1 line cut, D English 0-2, 0-1 free, Seán Murphy 0-1.

LAOIS:

E Rowland; J A Delaney, C Healy, B Stapleton; J Fitzpatrick, M Whelan, S Maher (0-1), Z Keenan, P Purcell; P J Scully, S Maher, C Dwyer; R King, W Hyland, T Fitzgerald. Subs: B Conroy for Scully (ht); P Whelan for Maher (63).

CARLOW:

K Kehoe; S Kavanagh, J Rogers, A Corcoran; R Coady, D English, E Coady; D Byrne, C Wall; J M Nolan, E Byrne, J Kavanagh; Seán Murphy, Seamus Murphy, M Kavanagh (0-6, frees).

Referee:

D Kirwan (Cork).

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