Offaly had 19 points to spare over Laois in their Leinster Senior Hurling Championship clash in Tullamore on Sunday.
This was the 48th championship meeting of the teams, with Offaly having won the last 12. Laois haven’t beaten Offaly in the Championship since 1972.
Both counties entered this match with contrasting league fortunes. Offaly were relegated to Division 2, while Laois won that Division and then lost to Limerick in a promotion play-off.
Following their lack of progress in recent years, Laois adopted a youth policy, and gave debuts to seven players.
In windy, showery and overcast conditions, in front of a crowd of about 6,000, it was four points each after nine minutes, following fairly even exchanges.
But then Offaly’s greater experience began to show as they increased the intensity, with superior first touch and striking. They hit a purple patch and scored six consecutive points in 11 minutes to lead by 10 points to four after 24 minutes.
They added another four without reply in the final six minutes of a scrappy half, to lead at the interval by 0-15 to 0-06 - corner forward Damien Murray scoring eight points, all but one from frees. Centre-forward James Young had hit four of Laois’s first-half tally.
The second half was pedestrian with Offaly on top in every sector. They continued to pick off the points at will, with Laois never getting nearer than nine points and failing to score from play in the second half.
Offaly’s goal came when top scorer Damien Murray - he scored 1-12 in total - burst through after 65 minutes and beat Patrick Mullaney.
Offaly ran in five subs in the closing quarter, as they finished with points by Murray, team captain Rory Hannify - who score five points in total - and Michael Cordial.
An interested spectator was Kilkenny manager Brian Cody, but he won’t have learned a lot about the quality of the Offaly challenge ahead of the sides’ clash in Portlaoise in a fortnight.
Offaly: B Mullins, C Hernon, P Cleary, B O’Meara, G Oakley, D Kenny, K Brady, B Teehan, B Murphy, G Hanniffy, R Hannify, D Molloy, B Carroll, J Bergin, D Murray.
Subs: Shane Dooley for Joe Bergin (55 minst) David Franks for Ger Oakley (65 mins); Cathal Parlonfor Brendan Murphy (67 mins); Michael Cordial for Barry Teehan (68 mins); Ciaran Slevin for Derek Molloy (68 mins)
Laois: P Mullaney; C Healy, D Rooney, K Fitzpatrick; M McEvoy, M Whelan, C Dunne; J Fitzpatrick, S Dollard; W Hyland, J Young, J Phelan, J Brophy, T Fitzgerald, J Phelan.
Subs: James Walsh for Shane Dollard (30 mins); Eamonn Jackman for Ciaran Fitzpatrick (h/t); John Walsh for Willie Hyland (54mins); Philip Russell for Jason Phelan (60 mins); Brian Ferns for Darren Rooney (66 mins).
Ref: Ml. Haverty (Galway)
© RTÉ GAA Championship 2007
Filed under: Laois Hurling