Today saw the Laois senior footballers power past Derry into round 3 of the All-Ireland qualifiers, with an Eoin Lowry goal being the crucial final difference between the sides.
John Sugrue’s men kept Derry in the game by their failure to rattle the net but they struck when it really mattered to seal a priceless win.
Here is a more in-depth look at how the game panned out:
1 – Man of the match – Daniel O’Reilly
There are plenty of contenders for this award with a number of players standing up at various stages over the course of the game.
Trevor Collins, Colm Murphy and Gareth Dillon all played well at different stages but the man who shone consistently was Graiguecullen’s Daniel O’Reilly.
Described afterwards by manager John Sugrue as ‘our Ethiopian from Graiguecullen’, O’Reilly ran himself into the ground for 76 minutes.
He carried ball, tracked runners and made tackle after tackle in an outstanding display which also saw him kick a point. After everything that happened to him last year it is brilliant to see him back to his very best.
2 – Missed goal chances almost cost Laois
Laois barely troubled the Derry goal in the first half but they emerged in the first half with a fresh impetuous and played much more on the front foot.
That yielded goal chances. Two of which came to Colm Murphy and another to Evan O’Carroll but all three were missed. Keeper Thomas Mallon pulled off two saves while also did well to thwart a Donie Kingston chance after an incisive run by his younger brother Paul.
Those misses kept Derry in the game and actually saw them go ahead with lads than 10 minutes to go. However Eoin Lowry did come to the rescue. Scoring goals has been a big problem for Laois this year and it is something they are going to have to improve upon if they wish to progress any further.
3 – Impact from the bench
Laois made five changes during the game and each of them made a huge contribution.
Denis Booth picked up an early yellow card and then committed a few fouls leading to a tactical substitution at half time where Portarlington’s Seán Byrne entered the fray.
The minor captain from 2016 was in for his first senior championship appearance with his club mate Robbie Piggot switching to full back and neither of them putting a foot wrong.
Laois then lost Donie Kingston and Piggot to black cards in quick succession with teenagers Mark Barry and Seán O’Flynn thrust into action for the final 15 minutes while Stradbally’s Eoin Buggie also played his first game for Laois under Sugrue in place of Paddy O’Sullivan and did well.
Ballyroan’s Marty Scully entered the party in the second half and his pace combined with Eoin Lowry’s power to setup what proved to be the winning goal.
4 – Changing of the guard
Laois won this game without the injured duo of Colm Begley and Mark Timmons while they finished it without the likes of Denis Booth or Donie Kingston on the field.
Instead, players like Danny O’Reilly, Colm Murphy, Marty Scully, Mark Barry, Seán Byrne, Sean O’Flynn and Eoin Buggie were all on the field at the full time whistle.
Seeing young players like these taking their chance of a big day is very important for the county going forward.
5 – Laois supporters
Around 100 Laois fans made the three and a half hour journey to Owenbeg and they weren’t disappointed as their side gave them a real performance in the second half.
Eoin Lowry’s goal sparked the year’s first ‘Laois, Laois, Laois’ chant as the true diehards savoured a memorable day on the road.
Here’s hoping more join them next weekend!
6 – Right sided free problems
With Ross Munnelly no longer a permanent fixture in the Laois attack, the issue of frees on the right side of the goals is a real problem for Laois.
Against Meath, Evan O’Carroll had a go with his weaker left foot and today Donie Kingston tried the same but neither found the range from positions that would be routine enough for a left-footed kicker.
This is something Laois will have to look at going forward.
7 – Brexit
On an unrelated football note, travelling up North really drives home the potentially catastrophic impact Brexit may have on the people who live here.
As it stands now, you freely enter the country from Ireland without really knowing it until you begin to encounter the Union Jacks and such. But that is set to change in October when the UK leaves the EU and if a border is out in place, it may cause all sorts of problems.
8 – Football for all
At halftime in the game the crowd was entertained by an exhibition match from the Derry Football For All team. Players with physical and mental disabilities joined together to put on a spectacle that would warm your heart.
This year The Rock GAA club began Football For All sessions every Sunday morning in their grounds and they have proved to be a huge success. Perhaps, Laois GAA may look at hosting a game like this at halftime in one of our county games in the future.
9 – What happens next?
Laois now go into Round 3 of the All Ireland Qualifers with seven other teams: Clare, Westmeath, Tyrone, Kildare, winners of Armagh/Monaghan, Mayo/Down and Sligo/Offaly.
The draw will be made on Radio 1 at 8.45am on Monday morning and Laois cannot play Westmeath as the sides already met.
The games will be played next weekend – which will be busy for Laois fans with the Joe McDonagh Cup final on Sunday too.