Laois 2-12 Monaghan 0-12 : A BRACE of first-half goals were key as Laois delivered their best display in recent years to record a six-point victory over Monaghan at O’Moore Park, Portlaoise, yesterday. In front of 3,000 spectators goals from Colm Kelly and Brendan Quigley helped Justin McNulty’s charges deliver a complete performance.
McNulty dedicated this victory to former Laois selector John Mulligan who is battling through illness, but was present with the Laois footballers yesterday during the national anthem.
For Eamon McEneaney it was his last game as manager of Monaghan. “I did indicate to the county chairman if we even had got to the Ulster final and won it I wouldn’t be going on for the next year or the year after,” he said. “It’s a long-term job now and from what I have seen in the last 12 months I felt it would take someone else to take it on for the next three years.”
Points from Ross Munnelly and half-back Conor Boyle saw the hosts settle quickest but Monaghan then ran rampant with five unanswered points.
Monaghan full-forward line trio – Paul Finlay, Conor McManus and Tomas Freeman – helped the visitors to a three-point lead by the 20th minute. But Laois battled back with an unanswered 1-4, including Kelly’s goal.
The hosts turned defence into attack in the 26th minute after a wayward pass by Freeman to Kieran Duffy. Laois quickly moved the ball upfield for Kelly whose powerful shot came down off the crossbar before the ball was cleared. However, the umpires deemed the ball had crossed the line and the green flag was raised. Monaghan cut the gap to two points by the 31st minute, but Quigley powered through for Laois’s second goal and Laois led 2-7 to 0-8 at the interval.
Clinical Monaghan had failed to register a wide in the first half, but scores were at a premium in the second half as defences got on top.
Points from Finlay and Dick Clerkin cut the gap to three points eight minutes after the restart.
Laois were resilient with fine efforts from Kelly, Damien O’Connor and Tierney, while at the opposite end goalkeeper Eoin Culliton pulled off a superb 64th-minute save from a Darren Hughes goal shot.
Monaghan battled hard until the end, but Laois remained resolute and a fine block by Cahir Healy foiled a late Stephen Gollogly goal attempt at the death as Laois held out for victory.
LAOIS : E Culliton; C Healy, K Meaney, J Kavanagh; D Strong, J OLoughlin, C Boyle (0-1); B Quigley (1-1), C Begley; R Munnelly (0-3, frees), B Sheehan, G Walsh (0-1); D O’Connor (0-2), P Clancy (0-1); C Kelly (1-2). Subs: MJ Tierney (0-1, one 45) for Walsh (49 mins), P McMahon for Strong (51 mins), D Conway for Kelly (66 mins), S OLeary for Clancy (68 mins).
MONAGHAN: M Keogh; D Wylie, V Corey, C Walshe; K OConnell, D Mone (0-1), K Duffy; O Lennon (0-1), D Clerkin (0-1); P Dooney, D Hughes, J Turley; P Finlay (0-3, two frees), C McManus (0-5, three frees), T Freeman (0-1). Subs: S Gollogly for Dooney (53 mins), D Hughes for O’Connell (56); S Smith for Turley (60), C McGuinness for Finlay (69).
Referee: David Coldrick (Meath).