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Can you believe that it is now 14 years since Ian Fitzgerald climbed into the Hogan Stand and lifted the Delaney Cup?
Well, come July 20, it will be and it is even stranger to think that we have only beaten our rivals Kildare once since.
The 2003 Leinster final saw Laois and Kildare clash for the first time in this setting since 1946.
Thanks to Brendan Brophy in Brophy Videography we’ve got our hands on the Sunday Game highlights from that game and it includes interviews with Fitzgerald, Michael Lawlor and Brian ‘Beano’ McDonald as well as footage from the celebrations afterwards in the Red Cow Hotel.
Back then, Laois ran out winners and they got off to a great start here when Kildare midfielder Alan Barry was sent off after picking up two yellow cards in the first four minutes.
While Laois raced into an early lead, with Fitzgerald in particular on fire in the early stages, numerical advantage didn’t last long – Kevin Fitzpatrick being red-carded after 20 minutes for a sliding tackle on Tadhg Fennin.
Johnny Doyle and Paddy Murray pointed to get Kildare up and running but Ross Munnelly, Gary Kavanagh and Tom Kelly all pointed and by half-time Laois led by 0-8 to 0-6.
Laois struck for two goals on the resumption of play through Beano McDonald and Munnelly and it looked like Mick O’Dwyer’s side were going to cruise to victory.
And, despite Kildare being reduced to 13 following the sending off of Mick Wright on a second yellow, Kildare came storming back. Helped by a well taken Ronan Sweeney penalty, they managed to get themselves level as we entered the final stages.
But Laois dug deep and kicked the final three points of the game through Donal Miller, Ian Fitzgerald and Barry Brennan to seal a famous 2-13 to 1-13 win.
Just two players from that day are still involved with the repective counties – Ross Munnelly for Laois and Eamonn Callaghan for Kildare.
Seamus McCormack’s final whistle signalled unprecedented scenes of joy for the Laois supporters. Two weeks later All Ireland champions Armagh brought the journey to an end in a hard-fought All Ireland quarter-final but that day against Kildare will never be forgotten.
SCORERS – LAOIS: Beano McDonald 1-2, Ian Fitzgerald 0-4, Ross Munnelly 1-1, Tom Kelly 0-2, Pádraig Clancy, Gary Kavanagh, Donal Miller and Barry Brennan 0-1 each KILDARE: Johnny Doyle 0-5, Paddy Murray 0-4, Ronan Sweeney 1-0, Staurt McKenzie-Smith 0-2, Glenn Ryan and Pádraig Brennan 0-1 each
LAOIS: Fergal Byron; Aidan Fennelly, Colm Byrne, Joe Higgins; Darren Rooney, Tom Kelly, Kevin Fitzpatrick; Pádraig Clancy, Noel Garvan; Ross Munnelly, Mick Lawlor, Gary Kavanagh; Beano McDonald, Ian Fitzgerald, Damien Delaney. Subs: Colm Parkinson for Delaney, Barry Brennan for Kavanagh, Donal Miller for Lawlor, Stephen Kelly for Munnelly
KILDARE: Enda Murphy; Martin Dunne, David Lyons, Brian Lacey; Damien Hendy, Mick Wright, Andrew McLoughlin; Alan Barry, Ronan Sweeney; Paddy Murray, Johnny Doyle, Killian Brennan; Derek McCormack, Staurt McKenzie-Smith, Tadhg Fennin. Subs: Glenn Ryan for Dunne, Padraig Brennan for McCormack, Eamonn Callaghan for McKenzie-Smith, Ronan Quinn for McLoughlin, Ken Donnelly for Fennin
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