Laois 0-15 Carlow 0-11
Allianz Football League Division 4 Final
Brought to you in association with 12 Acres Brewing
The Laois footballers have claimed the Allianz Football League Division 4 champions after a hard-earned win over Carlow in Croke Park this afternoon.
It was a week like no other for the Laois footballers. On Wednesday Gary Walsh got himself embroiled in the controversy of all controversies when he tweeted his support for Paddy Jackson in the Ulster Rugby rape case in Belfast.
His comments drew sharp criticism from all quarters with Laois GAA and officials sponsors MW Hire distancing themselves and then Walsh issuing an apology. The biggest punishment was still to come, with the Ballylinan man informed on Thursday night that he was dropped from the side.
Walsh hasn’t been just Laois’s top scorer in this league campaign but the top scorer in the entire country across all four divisions, his 4-41 all the more impressive when you consider he only played six games.
In any case, he wasn’t the only Laois player to miss the game – Evan O’Carroll also out because of injury. Ross Munnelly and Eoin Lowry came in to start instead.
And it was Munnelly who got the game’s first score, a fifth minute after Benny Carroll was fouled.
John O’Loughlin then swung over a fine point off his left and O’Loughlin and Lillis combined to set up Munnelly from play, a score that brought you back to the glory days of the mid Noughties.
Lillis and Munnelly again combined in the tenth minute to set Donie Kingston up for a goal chance. The big man blasted it and thanks to the use of Hawk Eye it was deemed a point.
By now Laois were getting on top and Lillis underlined their early dominance by firing over a wonderful effort off the outside of his boot.
Daragh Foley eventually got Carlow off the mark in the 17th minute and at the midway point of the half, it was Laois 0-5, Carlow 0-1.
Brendan Murphy pulled another back for Carlow when he swung over a peach of a score after shaking off Robbie Piggott and Carlow could have had a goal when they created an overlap only for John Murphy to see his effort come off the post and go wide. A point would have been the wiser option.
Kingston’s second put Laois four ahead and Munnelly then got his third before Sean Gannon pulled another back for Carlow.
Kingston got two more really impressive scores to put Laois 0-9 to 0-3 up by the 30th minute but Carlow hit back with the next two, from Foley and full-back Shane Redmond.
The last score of the half, though, went to Alan Farrell and Laois led 0-10 to 0-5 at the break.
A sweet long-range free from Evan Lowry got Laois off to a great start in the second half but slowly Carlow started building momentum.
Sean Murphy, Sean Gannon and a Daragh Foley free got Carloiw within three and they could have been closer had the usually reliable Paul Broderick not been badly off target with a couple of frees.
Lowry got a much-needed point from play for Laois and then a Munnelly free put the gap out to five with 20 minutes remaining.
A good Graham Brody save on Foley denied Carlow a goal in the 52nd minute and they saw another chance go astray five minutes later when Brendan Murphy saw his powerful effort blocked by Mark Timmons when Sean Gannon was unmarked inside him.
Gannon did reduce it to four a minute later and then Broderick got it back to three with eight minutes remaining.
A Donie Kingston free calmed Laois somewhat and then after an incredibly patient buildup, Eoin Lowry swung over the insurance score.
After a tumultuous week, Stephen Attride lifted the Division 4 trophy.
A satisfactory end to a first Division 4 campaign in 50 years.
A championship opener against Wexford awaits in early May.
SCORERS – Laois: Donie Kingston 0-5 (two frees), Ross Munnelly 0-4 (two frees), Eoin Lowry 0-2 (one free), John O’Loughlin 0-1, Kieran Lillis 0-1, Alan Farrell 0-1 Carlow: Darragh Foley 0-3 (one free), Sean Gannon 0-3, Paul Broderick 0-2 (one free), Brendan Murphy 0-1, Shane Redmond 0-1, Sean Murphy 0-1,
LAOIS: Graham Brody; Stephen Attride, Mark Timmons, Gareth Dillon; Trevor Collins, Colm Begley, Robert Pigott; John O’Loughlin, Kieran Lillis; Alan Farrell, Benny Carroll, Brian Glynn; Eoin Lowry, Donie Kingston, Ross Munnelly. Subs: Danny O’Reilly for Carroll (51), Darren Strong for Glynn (59), David Conway for Munnelly (62), Niall Donoher for Piggott (65), Jamie Farrell for Kingston (71), Finbarr Crowley for Collins (71)
CARLOW: Robbie Molloy; Chris Crowley, Shane Redmond, Mark Rennick; Jordan Morrissey, Daniel St Ledger, Ciaran Moran; Brendan Murphy, Sean Murphy; Sean Gannon, Darragh Foley, Eoghan Ruth; Paul Broderick, Darragh O’Brien, John Murphy. Subs: Cian Lawlor for Rennick (55), Diarmuid Walsh for O’Brien (62), Brendan Kavanagh for Moran (65), Kieran Nolan for Morrissey (65), Lee Walker for J Murphy (70)
REFEREE: Martin McNally (Monaghan)