Laois secured their third straight win in this Leinster SHC Round Robin qualifier and advance with confidence to face Wexford in the Leinster SHC quarter-final.
Leinster SHC round robin
However they were assisted by Kerry side who gave away some silly frees in this highly entertaining battle at Austin Stack Park yesterday.
Laois manager Eamon Kelly believed that the victory was an important psychological hurdle overcome: “We came down here in February in the league and got turned over. We felt the players owed it to themselves to go out and perform and they did it the hard way this time. We probably had a patchy enough first half considering we gave two goals away before half-time, but they stuck to their task well and those early second- half scores were key.”
Laois sharp-shooter Ross King had a field day, converting 11 of 12 frees, while Kerry missed six scoreable frees. In a game of tight margins, this proved crucial.
Kerry and Laois traded scores throughout the opening half with King proving regal from frees. He was on target with the opening score of the game, and points from the impressive Paddy Purcell and Aaron Dunphy were complemented by a Neil Foyle goal after three minutes.
But Kerry, with Mikey Boyle, Brendan O’Leary and John Buckley to the fore, fought back with ferocious intensity. Boyle and Jordan Conway (from play) and Shane Nolan with 0-5 from placed balls had Kerry in touch approaching half time.
Then Kerry’s Nolan hit Laois with a two-goal salvo in 60 seconds in first-half injury time, sending the Kingdom to the dressing room 2-8 to 1-7 in front.
Kerry took an inordinate amount of time to reappear for the second period and Laois made them pay with three rapid points, two by King after Kerry gave away needless frees, before the game turned dramatically in Laois’s favour.
Firstly Paddy Purcell hit the Kerry net before the home side lost Sean Weir to a second yellow card. To their credit, Kerry gave it everything with Mikey Boyle drilling a free to the net but Ross King kept punishing Kerry as Laois kept the Kingdom at arm’s length. Of some comfort to Kerry is that results elsewhere ensured they retained their championship status for 2018, with Meath returning to the Christy Ring Cup.
Scorers for Laois:
R King (0-13, 11f, 1 65), P Purcell (1-2), N Foyle (1-0), S Downey, A Dunphy, S Maher, A Corby, M Kavanagh and S Bergin (0-1 each)
Scorers for Kerry:
S Nolan (2-6, 4f, 1’65), M Boyle (1-1), P Boyle (frees) and B Murphy (0-2 each), P O’Connor, J Buckley, P Lucid and J Conway (0-1).
E Rowland; L Cleere, L Bergin, D Palmer; C Collier, C Dwyer, and M Whelan: R King, P Purcell; S Downey, R Mullaney, P Whelan; A Dunphy, N Foyle, S Maher.
J Lennon for P Whelan (31), A Corby for R Mullaney (h/t), M Kavanagh for S Downey (56), S Bergin for S Maher (63), and B Corby for N Foyle (68).
M Stackpoole; J O’Connor, R Horgan, S Weir; J Buckley, D Dineen, T Murnane; J Goulding, P O’Connor; B O’Leary, M O’Leary, J Conway; P Boyle, M Boyle, S Nolan.
J Griffin for J Goulding (58), M O’Connor for J Conway (60), B Murphy for T Murnane (64), P Lucid for S Nolan (66). Referee: A Kelly (Galway)
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