The Laois footballers began their Allianz Football League Division 2 campaign away to Roscommon today when two injury time goals earned Laois a 2-14 apiece draw.
We pick out some of the main talking points from a dramatic afternoon.
Man of the Match – Evan O’Carroll
It was a toss up between captain Kieran Lillis and Evan O’Carroll for this honour but O’Carroll just edges it.
Always an option for a long ball in and got himself into numerous scoring positions. Could well have finished with more than 1-5 and missed a one-on-one at a crucial stage in the second half. But his goal was ‘goal of the season’ stuff and he also nailed two ’45s and an important free off the ground.
Kieran Lillis’s form
Lillis’s form has been on a steady upward graph over the last three seasons since put his injury setbacks behind him.
Named at full-forward today and though he spent some time in the position, he started and played most of the game at midfield.
1-3 from play is an incredible haul for a midfielder, 1-2 of it from play and all of it off his weaker left boot, including the equalising goal. Club player of the year last year and announced as Laois’s new captain last week the consistency and quality of his performances is hugely impressive.
When Enda Smith scored a penalty for Roscommon in the 61st minute to put them 2-11 to 0-12 up the game looked over and done with, particularly given that Mark Timmons was in the sin bin for a drastic late tackle on Niall Kilroy that gave away the penalty.
By the 69th minute it was 2-13 to 0-13 but Laois got two injury time goals to make a draw of it. Over the last couple of seasons, Laois have really dug in in situations like this and rescuing a draw against the Connacht champions and a side that have played in the Super 8s and in Division 1 in recent seasons was good going.
Cahir Healy came on as a sub in the second half when he replaced Trevor Collins, making it his first appearance for the Laois footballers since 2013.
The fact that Healy lives in London and commutes over and back for training is one thing but he has come back from two serious knee injuries in the past four years, including a cruciate this time last year. He also turned 33 late last year, an age when most players are finished with the intercounty game.
It’s great to see him back though and hopefully it’s the first of many appearances in 2020.
The new advanced mark and the sin bin were both in operation today and the advanced mark certainly is leading to confusion with both players and officials.
If you don’t call the mark, do you get one? Does the referee have to blow for it? Does advantage apply to the mark if a player does play on? How strictly enforced is the 15-second rule? And how difficult is it for referees to watch where the ball was kicked from (it’s supposed to be from outside the ’45) as well as everything else?
Mark Timmons was sin-binned in the 61st minute, the only player to be black-carded today.
Referees also seem to have been told to clamp down on players over carrying as on numerous occasions he blew for it – much to the annoyance of the large home crowd.
Kildare beat Fermanagh 2-12 to 0-14 and Westmeath beat Clare 2-9 to 1-11 this afternoon while Armagh were big 2-18 to 1-8 winners over Cavan last night.
Laois are at home to Armagh next Saturday night in MW Hire O’Moore Park. Roscommon are away to Fermanagh while Cavan are at home to Westmeath and Clare host Kildare.