Laois 5-17 Kerry 1-21
Joe McDonagh Cup Round 3
For the first time since 2005, the Laois hurlers will play a game in Croke Park after they went goal crazy in Tralee this afternoon to defeat Kerry.
Eddie Brennan’s charges raised five green flags via five different scorers as they won for the third time on the bounce to reach the final of the Joe McDonagh Cup with one game to spare.
Laois still have to play Westmeath in their final game next Saturday but they will do so safe in the knowledge that their place in the showpiece event is secured regardless of the result.
Westmeath defeated Antrim today by 0-29 to 0-21 in Dunloy meaning that even a defeat for them against Laois, coupled with a Kerry win over Offaly next weekend, will still most likely see them in the final against Laois as their scoring difference is far superior to Kerry while they are ahead of Antrim on the head-to-head rule.
Laois were forced into two changes before throw in with Neil Foyle replacing Ballyfin’s Eanna Lyons and Clough-Ballacolla’s Stephen Maher coming in for Mark Kavanagh – both of whom missed out through injury.
It would be Foyle’s 100th time to pull on the Laois jersey and he capped it in some style with a fantastic performance which saw him create and take some brilliant scores before being substituted after 61 minutes.
Laois played with the breeze in the first half but the home side started well with early points from Shane Conway and Padraig Boyle.
Jack Kelly got Laois off the mark but Michael O’Leary restored Kerry’s two point advantage in the third minute.
Laois reduced that to one through Neil Foyle and they then scored two goals inside a minute. The first came from Borris-Kilcotton’s Aaron Dunphy who beat several defenders before rattling the net.
Laois won the resulting puck-out and drove forward again where Stephen Maher saw his shot come back off the post to Cha Dwyer who unselfishly laid the ball off to Ross King and he scored.
Kerry were creaking now and Laois got the next three points through Maher (2) and King to move 2-5 to 0-3 ahead after 13 minutes.
A defensive lapse by Laois though allowed Padraig Boyle in to score the game’s third goal and he almost had a second moments later but for a brilliant save by Laois keeper Enda Rowland.
Cha Dwyer pointed for Laois but Kerry points from Shane Conway, Daniel Collins and Michael Leary had the gap down to three as we entered the closing ten minutes of the opening half.
But Laois kicked on again as Neil Foyle scored a brilliant goal and then he, Aaron Dunphy and Stephen Maher all raised white flags to move the O’Moore men nine ahead.
But Kerry gave themselves a fighting chance for the second half by three scores in injury time through Padraig Boyle to cut the gap to six at half time – 3-11 to 1-11.
Kerry now had the wind at their backs and they wasted no time eating into the Laois lead – Jack Goulding pointing with just 30 seconds played which was quickly followed by Padraig Boyle.
Stephen Maher opened Laois’s account with his fifth point of the game before their fourth goal arrived after 40 minutes through the excellent Cha Dwyer.
He powered a shot to the corner of the net after the chance was created for him by the brilliant Neil Foyle.
Shane Conway replied with a two 65s but Laois’s fifth goal arrived after 45 minutes when John Lennon’s long rang shot dropped short and a scramble ensued where Paddy Purcell was there to force the ball home.
Shane Conway’s sixth point for Kerry cut the deficit somewhat but Laois led by 5-12 to 1-16 as we entered the closing 20 minutes.
The margin remained at eight points after Cha Dwyer and Shane Conway traded points but Willie Dunphy and Aaron Dunphy pushed Laois ten clear with a quarter of the game to play.
Shane Conway reduced the gap but Neil Foyle was pulling the strings for Laois now and he set up Cha Dwyer who took his tally to 1-3.
Conway again kept Kerry’s side of the scoreboard ticking while so too did James O’Connor but a Stephen Maher free left Laois 5-17 to 1-20 ahead after 63 minutes.
Michael Boyle hit a score from inside his own half but it was goals Kerry needed at this stage if they were going to really cause Laois trouble in the time that remained.
But they didn’t come and Laois ran out comfortable winners to book their spot in the final in Croke Park on June 30.
SCORERS – LAOIS: Stephen Maher 0-6 (four frees), Ross King 1-1, Aaron Dunphy 1-3, Jack Kelly 0-1, Neil Foyle 1-2, Cha Dwyer 1-3, Paddy Purcell 1-0, Willie Dunphy 0-1 KERRY: Shane Conway 0-9 (six frees, two 65s), Padraig Boyle 1-6, Michael O’Leary 0-2, Daniel Collins 0-1, Jack Goulding 0-1, James O’Connor 0-1, Michael Boyle 0-1
LAOIS: Enda Rowland (St Lazerian’s Abbeyleix); Donnacha Hartnett (Mountmellick), Matthew Whelan (Borris-Kilcotton), Joe Phelan (Camross); Jack Kelly (Rathdowney-Errill), Ryan Mullaney (Castletown), Padraig Delaney (The Harps),; John Lennon (Rosenallis), Cha Dwyer (Ballinakill); Aaron Dunphy (Borris-Kilcotton), Willie Dunphy (Clough-Ballacolla), Paddy Purcell (Rathdowney-Errill); Neil Foyle (Borris-Kilcotton), Stephen Maher (Clough-Ballacolla), Ross King (Rathdowney-Errill). Subs: Stephen Bergin (Clough-Ballacolla) for King (48), Lee Cleere (Clough-Ballacolla) for Phelan (50), Conor Phelan (Castletown) for Foyle (61), Eric Killeen (Rathdowney-Errill) for Kelly (67), Lorcan Burke (Camross) for Delaney (71)
KERRY: John B O’Halloran; James O’Connor, Bryan Murphy, Sean Weir; Evan Murphy, Patrick Kelly, Daniel Collins; Dan Goggin, Tomas O’Connor; Michael O’Leary, Shane Conway, Jack Goulding; Padraig Boyle, Michael Boyle, Colum Harty. Subs: John Buckley for E Murphy (30), Matthew Slattery for Harty (51)
Referee: Johnny Murphy (Limerick)