Allianz Hurling League Division 1B
Steven Miller, in Austin Stack Park
The Laois senior hurlers fell to a disappointing loss to Kerry in Tralee this afternoon as the home side scored three second-half goals to come back from an nine-point deficit at the break.
It was a stunning Kerry comeback as Laois always looked to have enough in hand until they conceded two goals in less than a minute around the hour mark.
And it means Laois are now firmly in the relegation dogfight with a clash with Offaly to come next week.
Laois played with the strong wind in the first half and they made good use of it with Ballacolla duo Willie Dunphy and Stephen Maher in form. They raced in to a 0-4 to 0-0 lead after six minutes and were in control.
A great save from Eoin Fleming in the 16th minute denied Jordan Conway after he split through the Laois defence but Shane Nolan kept Kerry in touch with a couple of frees.
While the bulk of Laois’s scores in the opening half came from Stephen Maher frees, they made good use of the wind in the 21st minute when a long delivery from Cha Dwyer found Neil Foyle who laid off to Patrick Whelan to point from close range.
Willie Dunphy then came into his own. After Shane Nolan missed a relatively straight-forward free for Kerry, Laois responded immediately with Dunphy landing a gem of a point from under the stand. He then added two more in quick succession, the first when he blasted over from close range after winning a high ball, the second just moments later from further out.
Nolan – who endured a frustrating opening half on the frees as Kerry hit nine wides in total – added Kerry’s fourth point but Laois got the last two points before the break. The first was from Ben Conroy after a great pass from his midfield partner Cian Taylor. At the break, Laois led by 0-13 to 0-4.
Kerry got a great start to the second half. Big full-forward Padraig Boyle was fouled in the square and he drilled the resulting penalty past Fleming.
Maher replied with two frees for Laois but Kerry then hit four points in a row to reduce the gap to four by the 48th minute.
Maher again hit back with a couple of frees but Kerry were making ground. And they made it count. First Daniel Goulding whipped a loose ball to the net and then seconds later Colum Harty ghosted in and got Kerry’s third goal.
There was still ten minutes to play but from there to the finish it was all Kerry.
PJ Scully did score a beautiful sideline cut but it wasn’t enough as Kerry held on.
SCORERS – Laois: Stephen Maher 0-11 (all frees), Willie Dunphy 0-4, Neil Foyle, Ben Conroy, Paddy Whelan and PJ Scully (sideline cut) 0-1 each. Kerry: Shane Nolan 0-7 (all frees), Colum Harty 1-2, Padraig Boyle 1-1 (1-0 penalty), Jack Goulding 1-0, Daniel Collins 0-2, Mikey Boyle 0-2
Eoin Fleming (Borris-Kilcotton)
Dwayne Palmer (Camross)
Leigh Bergin (Shanahoe)
Padraig Lawlor (Ballinakill)
Matthew Whelan (Borris-Kilcotton)
Patrick Purcell (Rathdowney-Errill)
Ryan Mullaney (Castletown)
Ben Conroy (Slieve Bloom)
Cian Taylor (Portlaoise)
Cha Dwyer (Ballinakill)
Paddy Whelan (Borris-Kilcotton)
Stephen Maher (Clough-Ballacolla)
Willie Dunphy (Clough-Ballacolla)
Neil Foyle (Borris-Kilcotton)
Ross King (Rathdowney-Errill)
PJ Scully (Borris-Kilcotton) for Taylor (57 mins)
Eanna Lyons (Ballyfin) for P Whelan (59 mins)
Sean Downey (Ballinakill) for Mullaney (63 mins)
Cahir Healy (Portlaoise) for Foyle (64 mins)
Keith Carmody for Conway (52 mins)