Laois 2-8 Offaly 2-9
Leinster U-21 Football Championship Semi-Final
Ten wides in the opening 35 minutes cost Laois dearly as their Leinster U-21 campaign came to an end in Netwatch Cullen Park tonight.
Gary Kavanagh’s men failed to score a point from play until the last minute of normal time in the second half as they went down by a solitary point to Offaly.
Their wayward shooting allowed Offaly to go eight points clear with less than ten minutes to go and, despite a stirring fight back, Laois just fell short.
Laois made a great start with two Seán Moore frees while Offaly were guilty of hitting a few wides.
And lady luck then shone on Laois after 13 minutes. Seán Moore’s shot appeared to be sailing over but it cannoned back off the upright and Eoin Buggie, who had come all the way up from centre back, reacted quickest and palmed the ball to Colm Murphy who walked past Barry Rohan and tapped the ball home.
Both sides were guilty of hitting early wides, with Laois hitting seven and Offaly four, in the opening 15 minutes.
It took Offaly 16 minutes to score, but when they did, it was emphatic. A sweeping move involving Ruairi McNamee, James Lalor and Jordan Hayes resulted in the ball being fisted across the square where Ciarán Farrell was on hand to blast the ball into the net.
The same player then added a long range free and all of a sudden there was just a point between them with 20 minutes on the clock.
Offaly were level three minutes later when Paddy Dunican, who had moved into full forward, won the ball in front of Shane Nerney before firing over the bar.
The Faithful were on top now as James Lalor and Jordan Hayes took over the midfield sector and they struck the front through Shane Tierney before Hayes doubled their advantage from a free.
Laois went scoreless for almost 15 minutes in the first half but they lifted the siege two minutes before the interval with a Moore free after Colm Murphy had been fouled.
But Offaly had all the momentum now and they went straight down the other end where Paddy Dunican kicked the point which put them 1-5 to 1-3 ahead at half time.
Laois introduced Aaron Carroll for Brian Byrne at half time but it was Offaly who scored first as Jack Walsh dissected the posts after a strong solo run.
Laois kicked two more wides in the meantime with Trevor Collins desperately unlucky to hit the upright but that took their tally to ten on the night after just 35 minutes.
And it got even worse for Laois three minutes later. Shane Tierney turned over the ball in midfield and charged forward before popping the ball to Adam Mahon who pinged the ball in off the underside of the crossbar – giving Aaron Cooney no chance.
Offaly had the ball in the net for a third time when Ciarán Farrell’s long range was fumbled by Liam Knowles and scored by Jack Egan but referee Brendan Cawley signalled for a square ball.
Laois finally responded through another Seán Moore free to reduce the arrears to five as we entered the final quarter of the game.
But Offaly hit straight back through Jordan Hayes and added another via Seán Tierney to go seven clear with just ten minutes to go.
Seán Moore hit back with his fifth free of the evening and Laois were then awared a penalty after Colm Murphy was dragged down by David Dempsey. Moore stepped up and placed the ball into the corner of the net to set up an exciting final three minutes.
Stradbally Tom Shiel came off the bench to kick Laois’s first point from play as the game entered the first of four minutes of second-half injury time.
Moore added another free after the excellent Colm Murphy was fouled again and Laois now had three minutes to find an equaliser.
However, from the resulting kickout, referee Cawley harshly penalised Eoin Buggie for over-carrying the ball and Offaly broke down the field where Trevor Collins fouled Seán Tierney and he put Offaly two clear from the resulting free.
Laois had a late chance to win it but Tom Shiel’s free was blocked on the line and Colm Murphy blasted the rebound over the bar to leave the Offaly lads one ahead at the full time whistle.
SCORERS – Laois: Seán Moore 1-6, (1-0pen, 0-6frees), Colm Murphy 1-0, Tom Shiel 0-1 Offaly: Ciarán Farrell 1-1 (0-1free), Adam Mahon 1-0, Paddy Dunican, Jordan Hayes and Seán Tierney 0-2 each, Jack Walsh 0-1
Aaron Cooney (St Joseph’s)
James Kelly (St Joseph’s)
Shane Nerney (O’Dempsey’s)
Liam Knowles (Stradbally)
Trevor Collins (Graiguecullen)
Patrick O’Sullivan (Portarlington)
Eoin Buggie (Stradbally)
Daniel O’Reilly (Graiguecullen)
Danny Luttrell (Courtwood)
Darragh Connolly (Ballyfin)
Brian Daly (Barrowhouse)
Conor Whelehan (Timahoe)
Colm Murphy (Portarlington)
Sean Moore (Ballyfin)
Brian Byrne (Graiguecullen)
Aaron Carroll (Ballyroan-Abbey) for Byrne (HT)
Dylan Doyle (St Joseph’s) for Connolly (40mins)
Tom Shiel (Stradbally) for Kelly (48mins, black card)
Barry Rohan (Shannonbridge)
Clint Horan (Cloidagh Gaels)
David Dempsey (Ballycommon)
Colm Doyle (Clara)
Adam Mahon (Edendarry)
Carl Stewart (Clara)
PJ Daly (Cappincur)
James Lalor (Raheen)
Jordan Hayes (Edenderry)
Ciaran Farrell (Edenderry)
Paddy Dunican (Shamrocks)
Jack Walsh (Gracefield)
Ronan McEvoy (Shannonbridge)
Ruairi McNamee (Rhode)
Shane Tierney (Daingean)
Jack Egan (Ferbane) for Stewart (15mins)
Kyle Higgins (Ferbane) for Ronan McEvoy (47mins)
Jack Clancy (Belmont) for Dunican (52mins, black card)
Christian Brazil (Shannonbridge) for Dempsey (57mins, black card)