Laois 2-15 Down 1-12
Allianz Football League Division 3
The Laois footballers produced a wonderful second-half performance to get the better of Down in the opening round of the Allianz Football League in Newry this evening.
It was a real gutsy performance from John Sugrue’s men as they came from 0-10 to 0-5 down early in the second half to eventually win by six.
The result marks a great start to Laois’s Division 3 campaign with a win away to the side relegated from Division 2 last season and the outright favourites for this competition.
The introduction of Donie Kingston and Colm Begley at half time helped turn the game in Laois’s favour while the outstanding Evan O’Carroll caused all sorts of bother – and a brilliantly-finished goal from debutant Colm Murphy in the 59th minute was a huge moment before Paul Cahillane made sure of the win in injury time.
It was also a night when the new trial rules were on full show – the offensive mark was a big factor but referee Martin McNally raised the ire of the vocal home crowd on a couple of occasions in the second half.
Laois won a couple of offensive marks early on and Evan O’Carroll caused Down full-back Niall Donnelly plenty of problems in the early stages.
O’Carroll kicked four points in the opening half – a mixture of frees from the hand and the ground while he also played a part in Conor Boyle’s punched point when a goal was a slight possibility.
But from that point on Laois struggled to break down the home defence, as they flooded men back and made things a bit more difficult on John Sugrue’s men.
After 17 minutes Laois led 0-5 to 0-4 but they wouldn’t score again in the opening half as Down hit five in a row to lead 0-9 to 0-5 at the break. All of those Down points came from frees or marks – with Paul Devlin causing plenty of problems and Pat Havern, Jerome Johnston and Conor McGrady also on target.
Down could have pulled even further clear only for a wonderful block by debutant Sean Byrne on Liam Devlin as the big Down midfielder went for goal.
But Laois exploded into life in the second half. O’Carroll got a couple of frees and Kingston made his presence felt in a huge way.
After falling 0-10 to 0-5 behind, Laois then took over and hit seven in a row to go 0-12 to 0-10 up with Conor Boyle almost having a goal after a slick move.
While Down pulled one back, Laois did get a goal when Colm Murphy tucked his shot brilliantly under the Down keeper. And Laois could have wrapped it up moments later only for Paul Cahillane to see his close range shot come back off the bar.
Down got it back to one again when Donal O’Hare goaled but Laois made sure of it late on when Cahillane got a goal.
What a start to the season!
Laois now face Louth in Croke Park next Saturday in Round 2.
SCORERS – Laois: Evan O’Carroll 0-8 (five frees, one mark), Donie Kingston 0-3 (one free, one mark), Conor Boyle 0-3, Colm Murphy 1-1 (0-1 free), Paul Cahillane 1-0 : Down: Paul Devlin 0-4 (all frees), Donal O’Hare 1-1, Pat Havern 0-3 (one free, one mark), Conor McGrady 0-2 (one mark), Jerome Johnston 0-1 (mark), Conor Francis 0-1
LAOIS: Graham Brody (Portlaoise); David Seale (Portlaoise), Shane Nerney (O’Dempsey’s), Adam Campion (St Joseph’s); Stephen Attride (Killeshin), Robbie Pigott (Portarlington), Gareth Dillon (Portlaoise); John O’Loughlin (St Brigid’s, Dublin), Kieran Lillis (Portlaoise); Damien O’Connor (Timahoe), Conor Boyle (Portlaoise), Sean Byrne (Portarlington); Colm Murphy (Portarlington), Evan O’Carroll (Crettyard), Paul Kingston (Arles-Killeen). Subs: Colm Begley (Stradbally) for Campion (HT), Donie Kingston (Arles-Killeen) for O’Connor (HT), Paul Cahillane (Portlaoise) for P Kingston (59), Robert Tyrell (Camross) for Lillis (63), Eoin Lowry (Killeshin) for Byrne (63)
DOWN: Rory Burns; Ryan McAleenan, Niall Donnelly, Shay Murnin; Stephen Fagan, Colm Flanagan, Jonny Flynn; Conor Francis, Liam Devlin; Conor McGrady, Conor Poland, Stephen McConville; Paul Devlin, Pat Havern, Jerome Johnston. Subs: Caolan Mooney for Donnelly (45), Donal O’Hare for Devlin (49), Cory Quinn for Havern (49), Daniel Guinness for McGrady (51), Ceilum Doherty for Poland (59)
REFEREE: Martin McNally (Monaghan)