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Laois Hurling Memory: Limerick on the ropes – one that got away in 2009

Laois 1-14 Limerick 0-20
All-Ireland SHC Qualifiers Phase 3

There have been numerous hard luck stories for the Laois hurlers over the years across different generations.

In 2009, under Niall Rigney, Laois put together a good run of results and headed for Thurles to take on Limerick in Round 3 of the All Ireland Qualifiers.

While it resulted in a disappointing loss for the Laois hurling team of 2009, they came within 10 minutes of knocking Limerick out of the All-Ireland championship.

Laois had a spectacular start to the game, racing eight points ahead after only seven minutes.

As the momentum gathered, the crowd looked on in shock as Tommy Fitzgerald and Eoin Costelloe fired over two points in quick succession on the back of a Willie Hyland free.

Laois dominated in the air, with their half-back line claiming five Limerick puckouts in the first five minutes.

Centre-back Mick McEvoy earned a well-deserved mention as man of the match, as he won numerous balls sent into him and used the ball intelligently over the course of the game.

Costelloe secured the first goal as he fired in his rebounding shot towards Limerick keeper Brian Murray. Hyland added to further frees to leave Laois eight points ahead of the so far scoreless Limerick after 10 minutes.

Paudie McNamara stepped up for Limerick in the corner, hitting four unanswered points before Eamon Jackman and Mick McEvoy struck two vital scores for Laois leaving them six ahead.

Limerick slowly pulled themselves into the game, with McNamara, Paul Browne and an Andrew O’Shaughnessy free clawing back the deficit to leave just a goal between the sides – 1-9 to nine points at the interval.

Eoin Costelloe celebrates after scoring Laois’s first goal in the 2009 All Ireland SHC Qualifier against Limerick in 2009 

A fear crept in that this would be the last of the scoring exploits for Laois, but as Costelloe and Hyland pointed for Laois, the pressure pushed back onto Limerick.

Limerick showed their experience in this fervent game to reduce the deficit back to one through James Ryan, O’Shaughnessy, Donnacha Sheehan and a wonderful Paul Browne shot at the crossbar.

Owen Holohan in action against Gavin O’Mahoney Picture: Sportsfile

Towards the end of the game, Laois faltered as Limerick took over. As O’Shaughnessy added two late scores for Limerick, it signalled the end of Laois’s All-Ireland campaign.

Although their campaign may have ended, the legacy of that game lives on, with this Laois performance being long from forgotten.

Cork and Galway played in the second game in Thurles that day – and the Laois players received a standing ovation coming off the field.

It wasn’t the result they wanted but it remains a standout memory for that group of Laois players.

Willie Hyland celebrates a point in the first half. Picture: Sportsfile

SCORERS – Laois: Willie Hyland 0-8 (six frees), Eoin Costelloe 1-2, John Brophy 0-2, Eamon Jackman 0-1, Tommy Fitzgerald 0-1 Limerick: Andrew O’Shaughnessy 0-6 (five frees), Gavin O’Mahoney 0-3 (one free), Paul Browne 0-3, James O’Brien 0-2, Paudie McNamara 0-2, James Ryan 0-1, Donnacha Sheeran 0-1, Donie 0-1, Dave Breen 0-1

LAOIS: Tadgh Doran; John A Delaney, Darren Maher, Brian Stapleton; John Rowney, Brian Campion, Michael McEvoy; Colin Delaney, James Walsh; Willie Hyland, Eamon Jackman, Owen Houlihan; Tommy Fitzgerald, John Brophy, Eoin Costelloe. Subs: James Young for Houlihan (52 mins), Brian Dunne for Rowney (62 mins), Dayne Peacock for Costelloe (68 mins)

LIMERICK: Brian Murray; Damien Reale Stephen Lucey, Tom Condon; Seamus Hickey, Brian Geary, Mark Foley; Gavin O’Mahoney, Donal O’Grady; James Ryan Mike O’Brien, Paul Browne; Donnacha Sheeran, Paudie McNamara, Andrew O’Shaughnessy. Subs: Denis Moloney for Condon (29 minutes), James O’Brien for M O’Brien (50 minutes), Dave Breen for Sheehan (53 minutes), Donie Ryan for Browne (68 minutes)

The Laois team before the game in Thurles in 2009
Colin Delaney in action against Stephen Lucey, Gavin O’Mahoney and Mark Foley. Picture: Sportsfile

SEE ALSO – In Pictures: Remembering Laois’s famous league quarter-final win over Kilkenny in 1996