Laois 2-18 Sligo 2-10
Allianz Football League Division 3
The Laois footballers got their promotion hopes back on track thanks to an eight-point win over Sligo in O’Moore Park this afternoon.
A goal early in the second half from captain Stephen Attride set Laois on their way and then Donie Kingston made sure of it in the 45th minute when he drilled home a second. It was a win and performance that wiped away some of the damage done in the loss to Louth eight days ago.
Laois manager John Sugrue made sweeping changes from that game in Croke Park – eight in total with no outfield line surviving some alteration.
To stay in touch for promotion Laois couldn’t contemplate a loss. Sligo had lost their opening two games and arrived in Portlaoise in bad need of a win.
But despite a relatively close first half, the result was never in any real doubt after Attride’s goal.
It was a day when Evan O’Carroll continued his impressive form, Mark Barry and Marty Scully made impressive first starts for Laois and Paul Cahillane and Kevin Meaney returned after long absences. Cahillane finished with a couple of points to his name and his movement was excellent throughout.
Alongside him in the full-forward line O’Carroll was again central while 18-year-old Barry from O’Dempsey’s carried his classy club form onto the higher level and his vision and patience for Attride’s goal was hugely impressive.
There was also a very welcome return for Graiguecullen’s Danny O’Reilly, his first start since a serious assault in Carlow last April. He turned a fine hard-working performance, complete with a decent first-half point.
Laois got the first three points – the first from Colm Boyle could have been a goal for Donie Kingston but Evan O’Carroll took a great mark to point the resulting free and then Paul Cahillane tapped over a free after O’Carroll was fouled.
O’Carroll was in red hot form in the opening half, as he has been for Laois and UCD in the Sigerson Cup in the last couple of weeks. He finished the half with four points, a mix of frees, marks and from play, one of the points almost a goal.
It took Sligo until the 15th minute to get their first score, by which stage Laois were three up, when the long-serving Adrian Marren tapped over a free.
Moments later goalkeeper Aiden Devaney came up to stroke over a long-range free to narrow the gap.
Laois replied instantly however, Danny O’Reilly pointing on the run and then O’Carroll kicking a free after being fouled himself.
Liam Gaughan struck back with a sweet effort off the outside of his left but two more from O’Carroll from play had Laois four up.
Gaughan again hit back with a nice point and then Donie Kingston and pointed either side of Sligo frees – one each from Marren and Devaney. At the break, Laois led 0-9 to 0-6.
Cahillane and O’Carroll got the first two points of the second half for Laois and then Attride sallied forward to take a pass off Barry and finish low past the Sligo keeper.
O’Carroll and Barry added points either side of a Marren free and then Kingston drilled home a great goal in the 45th minute to stretch Laois 12 clear.
The final quarter was more nerve-wrecking than it should have been. Barry O’Gorman struck for two good Sligo goals and Marty Scully was given what seemed a harsh red card by referee Fergal Smyth. Sean O’Flynn – the Courtwood man making his first appearance as a second-half sub – then picked up a black card and sin bin, meaning Laois finished the game with 13.
But they had enough in the bank and held on for the win.
After three weeks of games in a row, Laois now face a two-week break before they play Westmeath in Mullingar on Sunday, February 24.
SCORERS – Laois: Evan O’Carroll 0-8 (two frees, one mark), Donie Kingston 1-3 (0-1 mark), Stephen Attride 1-0, Paul Cahillane 0-2 (one free), Colm Murphy 0-2, Conor Boyle 0-1, Danny O’Reilly 0-1, Mark Barry 0-1. Sligo: Barry O’Gorman 2-1 (0-1 mark),Adrian Marren 0-4 (three frees), Liam Gaughan 0-3, Adrian Devaney 0-2 (frees)
LAOIS: Graham Brody (Portlaoise); David Seale (Portlaoise), Shane Nerney (O’Dempsey’s), Gareth Dillon (Portlaoise); Marty Scully (Ballyroan-Abbey), Stephen Attride (Killeshin), Colm Begley (Stradbally); Kevin Meaney (Arles-Kilcruise), John O’Loughlin (St Brigids’, Dublin); Danny O’Reilly (Graiguecullen), Donie Kingston (Arles-Killeen), Conor Boyle (Portlaoise); Paul Cahillane (Portlaoise), Evan O’Carroll (Crettyard), Mark Barry (O’Dempsey’s). Subs: Robert Tyrell (Camross) for Meaney (46), Sean O’Flynn (Courtwood) for Boyle (57), Eoin Lowry (Killeshin) for Barry (59), Colm Murphy (Portarlington) for O’Carroll (59), Ross Munnelly (Arles-Kilcruise) for Cahillane (66)
SLIGO: Aidan Devaney; Nathan Mullen, Peter Laffey, John Carr; Luke Nicholson, Paul McNamara, Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch; Paul Kilcoyne, Adria McIntyre; Liam Gaughan, Sean Carrabine, Cathal Henry; Adrian Marren, Paddy O’Connor, Niall Murphy. Subs: Barry O’Gorman for Murphy (injured – 14), Neil Ewing for Henry (31), Alan McLoughlin for Carrabine (43), Darragh Cummins for Nicholson (47)
REFEREE: Fergal Smyth (Offaly)
SEE ALSO – E-cigarettes now banned from O’Moore Park