LAOIS: Zach Touhy 2-1 (0-1 ‘45), Donie Kingston 0-6 (three frees), Conor Meredith and Ciaran Farrell 0-2 each and Ed Kelly 0-1
DERRY: Lee Moore 1-2 (0-1 free), Aidan Heron, Declan Mullan and James Kielt (one free) 0-3 each, Christopher McKaigue and Gavin McGeehan 0-2 each
Steven Miller reports
Forget for a minute that Laois played way below par for long periods. When the pressure was on in Croke Park last Sunday, when the chips were down, Laois responded. For that they deserve enermous credit.
Touhy’s two goals, Donie Kingston’s six points, Robbie Kehoe’s outstanding display when moved to centre-back and a strong second-half showing from John O’Loughlin and Sean Ramsbottom in midfield were the highlights of a remarkable revival.
That revival looked impossible when Lee Moore goaled for Derry with eight minutes remaining to put them 1-15 to 1-7 in front but by bringing an attacker back to defence to protect their lead, they invited Laois on to them. Having only scored 1-7 in 54 minutes, Laois then went and scored 1-5 in the next nine and Clare referee Rory Hickey ended the game in the Derry ‘21 with Laois pressing hard for a winner.
That situation was something we didn’t see at half-time when Laois trailed 0-10 to 0-4 or when Moore got that goal. But, as manager Eddie Kelly said afterwards, Laois were in a similar position in the opening round of the Leinster championship against Dublin when they came from six points down to force extra time, without scoring a goal.
Laois’ late revival began out of pure frustration. After Derry’s goal they went back up the field and looked for the gaps that might let Laois through for a goal. After a lot of short hand-passing in front of goal, first-half sub Ciaran Farrell reckoned he had seen enough and popped it over the bar from 30 yards out. When the same player added another point immediately, the comeback had started.
It took a turn for the worse a minute later when Conor Meredith missed a good goal chance after being put through by sub Brian Glynn but Andrew Warnock’s save went out for a ‘45 and Zach Touhy landed the resulting kick to keep the pressure on. Donie Kingston landed a close-range free to close the gap to four just as three minutes of normal time were announced.
Laois had the momentum now and Simon Miller (another late sub) gathered the break off the next kickout and sent a lovely ball into Conor Meredith. Meredith laid it off to Touhy who was racing past his shoulder and from outside the large square, he shot powerfully to the top right hand corner.
The equaliser wasn’t long about following and the score came from a well-rehearsed Laois mantra in times of need: give it in to Kingston. Like he had done all day, Kingston won the ball under serious pressure, held off a couple of Derry defenders and fired over a brilliant point off his left.
With over a minute of injury time remaining Laois came again but their revival fell just short of outlandish and the next chance he got Rory Hickey did the sensible thing and blew up. Derry were devestated; Laois delirious.
In the opening half, we had begun to fear for Laois. Derry dictated the game, had picked out John O’Loughlin as one to target and were generally getting the better of each line of the field. They took the lead after two minutes when James Kielt kicked a free and although Conor Meredith equalised for Laois when he nipped in front of the goal-keeper, Derry proceeded to kick a succession of good points, some of them at their ease as they ran at Laois relentlessly.
Two minutes before half time they moved 0-10 to 0-3 in front - Laois’ points from Ed Kelly and Kingston punctuated the long spells of Derry dominance - but the half finished out on a high note for Laois when Kingston pointed a free after James Doyle was fouled just outside the square.
With an ugly championship exit on the horizon, Laois played much better stuff in the second half and two great points from Meredith and Kingston got the difference back to just four points. Declan Mullan responded for Derry but Kingston soon cancelled it out when he tapped over a close-range free.
Then, with 17 minutes remaining, Laois got their first goal. A lovely, weighted pass from Sean Ramsbottom was won by Kingston in the square and he won the ball well, held off the Derry defence again and passed across to Touhy who shot low and hard with his left foot.
A great chance for a leveller came moments later when Conor Meredith uncharacteristically swung a free wide and when Ciaran Farrell hit the post a minute later, it looked as if it wasn’t to be Laois’ day. Aidan Heron, Declan Mullan, Gavin McGeehan and Lee Moore (free) all pointed in quick succession to put Derry five in front and when Moore slipped Joe O’Connor and finished well past Conor O’Shea it seemed as if the show was over.
We didn’t count on Laois finishing as strong as they did. The replay’s set for next Saturday; Laois will be hoping they can continue from where they left off.
LAOIS: Conor O’Shea; Robbie Kehoe, Joe Mulhare, Joe O’Connor; Kieran Lillis, Conor Boyle, Zach Touhy; John O’Loughlin, Damien Lowry; Sean Ramsbottom, Ed Kelly, Donie Kingston; James Doyle, Conor Meredith, Brian Smith. Subs: Ciaran Farrell for Lowry (22 mins), Kieran Hyland for Smith (55 mins), Brian Glynn for Kelly (55 mins) and Simon Miller for Doyle (58 mins)
DERRY: Andrew Warnock; Mickey McKinney, Carlus McWilliams, Declan Bell; Neil Forrester, John F Bradley, Brendan Henry; Christopher McKaigue, Cailean O’Boyle; Stephen Cleary, Aidan Heron, Declan Mullan; James Kielt, Gavin McGeehan, Lee Moore. Subs: Lee Kennedy for Cleary (35 mins), Liam Morrow for Bell (46 mins), Paul Heaney for O’Boyle (50 mins) and Daniel Heavron for McGeehan (56 mins)
Referee: Rory Hickey (Clare)
© Leinster Express
Filed under: Laois Football