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Laois 1-14 Wicklow 1-13
Eirgrid Leinster U-20 Football Championship Round 2
Laois’s Leinster U-20 campaign is still alive – but only just as Billy O’Loughlin’s men eeked out a one point win over Wicklow this afternoon.
They trailed by four points early in the second half but, led by the scoring exploits of full forward Diarmuid Whelan, they battled back to win by a point in the end.
In an extremely open first half, Laois played with the breeze and scored the first three points.
Peter Kealy got the first and maybe should have had a goal when put through by Diarmuid Whelan. Evan Lowry and James Kelly then followed that with further points.
It took Wicklow nine minutes to get their first score but when they did convert via Gearóid Murphy, four more followed before Laois scored again.
Murphy got two more with Robert Kelly fisting over another before Adam McHugh almost had a goal but his shot flew over the bar with just Matthew Byron to beat.
Alan Kinsella replied for Laois but Wicklow were two up after twenty minutes thanks to full forward Dan Kelly.
Laois levelled things up after 22 minutes thanks to Evan Lowry and Diarmuid Whelan with Alan Kinsella seeing a chance for goal flash wide in between.
The sides traded points twice with Fintan O’Shea and Adam McHugh seeing efforts cancelled out by Whelan and Lowry as we approached half time.
The visitors then got two more thanks to Thomas Kearns and Matthew Kelly before the last action of the half saw Peter Kealy cut the gap to one – 0-10 to 0-9 in favour of Wicklow at the break.
Laois needed a good start to the second half and they got it thanks to two Diarmuid Whelan frees to take the lead again.
But Laois were rocked after 35 minutes. A kickout went badly wrong and was intercepted by Adam McHugh who found captain Conor Byrne and he rattled the net from close range.
Gearoid Murphy then fired over two points and Wicklow led by four points with twenty minutes to play.
Diarmuid Whelan got one back for Laois and with 15 minutes to play we were level. Evan Lowry split the Wicklow defence with a pinpoint ball and Diarmuid Whelan gathered it before firing into the net.
Both sides then missed chances before Laois went back into the lead after 51 minutes via Whelan.
We went ten more minutes without a score before Wicklow wing back Thomas Kearns pointed in the first minute of injury time.
But Laois went back down the other end and Diarmuid Whelan took his tally to 1-7 for the day.
Wicklow had a last gasp chance to salvage a draw but Gearoid Murphy’s shot just sailed wide and the final whistle sounded.
Laois must now defeat Meath in their final game to have any chance of progressing from the group.
SCORERS – Laois: Diarmuid Whelan 1-7 (four frees), Evan Lowry 0-3, Peter Kealy 0-2, James Kelly 0-1 (one free), Alan Kinsella 0-1 Wicklow: Gearoid Murphy 0-5 (two frees), Dan Kelly 0-1, Robert Kelly 0-1, Adam McHugh 0-2, Fintan O’Shea 0-1, Thomas Kearns 0-2, Matthew Kelly 0-1, Conor Byrne 1-0
LAOIS: Matthew Byron (Courtwood); James O’Connor (Timahoe), Diramuid Bennett (Portarlington), Richie Hitchcock (Park-Ratheniska); Conor Brennan (Ballyroan-Abbey), Shane Bolger (Kileshin), Seán O’Flynn (Courtwood); Rob Tyrell (Camross), Eoin Dunne (Rosenallis); James Kelly (St Joseph’s), Peter Kealy (St Joseph’s), James Phelan (The Heath); Alan Kinsella (Courtwood), Diarmuid Whelan (Ballyroan-Abbey), Evan Lowry (Killeshin). Subs: Dean Brophy (St Joseph’s) for O’Connor (ht), Jordan Fitzpatrick (Portarlington) for Kinsella (37mins), Padraig Kirwan (Emo) for Tyrell (43mins), Caomhan Brennan (Arles-Kilcruise) for Phelan (53mins)
WICKLOW: Tom McGurk; Jack Cotter, Conall O’Gallchobhair, Aaron Curran; Fintan O’Shea, Jaques McCall, Thomas Kearns; Padraig O’Toole, Ciarán Coffey; Robert Kelly, Gearóid Murphy, Jack Bellamy; Adam McHugh, Dan Kelly, Conor Byrne. Subs: Matthew Kelly for R Kelly (27mins), Kevin Mulhall for Coffey (54mins), Sean Gregory for McHugh (54mins), Cathal Kelleher for Kelly (59mins), James Hedderman for M Kelly (59mins)
Referee: Darragh Sheppard (Dublin)