Laois 2-12 Monaghan 0-12
All-Ireland Qualifiers Round 2 2012
Laois and Monaghan have only met twice in championship football – with the win over the Farney men in 2012 regarded as one of the best days of Justin McNulty’s tenure as manager.
Laois came into the game after limping past Carlow in Round 1 having been beaten by Longford in the Leinster championship.
Confidence wasn’t exactly high and Monaghan came to O’Moore Park after just being edged out in an Ulster semi final by Down – so they were red-hot favourites.
Laois got off to a good start with Ross Munnelly and Conor Boyle pointing but Monaghan hit the next five points to go clear.
But both sides were guilty of playing in fits and starts and two soft frees from Munnelly got Laois back on track, whittling the deficit down to one.
Justin McNulty’s men then enjoyed their best spell as corner-forward Kelly took centre stage. He levelled with a point before firing home the game’s first goal.
Kevin Meaney drilled a brilliant 45-yard pass downfield into Kelly’s hands and his measured finish gave Mark Keogh little chance of saving it.
Another inch-perfect ball out of defence from Meaney teed up a Padraig Clancy point, edging Laois into a 1-6 to 0-5 lead with 29 minutes gone.
The long ball tactic then paid dividends for Monaghan as Conor McManus got away from Cahir Healy but his goal effort sneaked over the crossbar rather than under it.
Paul Finlay’s left boot had the gap down to two points, but Laois conjured up a superb second goal as half-time approached.
Midfielder Brendan Quigley was played in by Munnelly and his rasping shot off the outside of his right boot flew into the top corner with Keogh stranded.
Conor McManus’ third successful free and a fine score from Laois wing-forward Damien O’Connor closed out the first half’s scoring, as Laois led by 2-7 to 0-8 at the break.
The scoring slowed down considerably in the second half but with the Laois full back line of Healy, Meaney and Jamie Kavanagh repelling everything Monaghan threw at them, they were comfortable.
Laois later went on to beat Leitrim and Meath to qualify for the quarter-finals where they were only narrowly beaten by All Ireland champions Dublin. Laois haven’t been back to the All Ireland quarter-final stage since.
SCORERS – Laois: Colm Kelly 1-2, Brendan Quigley 1-1, Ross Munnelly 0-3 (all frees), Damien O’Connor 0-2, Conor Boyle, Padraig Clancy, Gary Walsh, MJ Tierney (45) 0-01 each Monaghan: Conor McManus 0-5 (three frees), Paul Finlay 0-3 (two frees), Thomas Freeman, Dick Clerkin, Dessie Mone, Owen Lennon 0-1 each
LAOIS: Eoin Culliton; Cahir Healy, Kevin Meaney, Jamie Kavanagh; Darren Strong, John O’Loughlin, Conor Boyle; Brendan Quigley, Colm Begley; Damien O’Connor, Billy Sheehan, Gary Walsh; Ross Munnelly, Padraig Clancy, Colm Kelly. Subs: MJ Tierney for Walsh (50 mins), Padraig McMahon for Strong (52), David Conway for Kelly (66), Stephen O’Leary for Clancy (68).
MONAGHAN: Mark Keogh; Drew Wylie, Vincent Corey, Colin Walshe; Karl O’Connell, Dessie Mone, Kieran Duffy; Owen Lennon, Dick Clerkin; Pete Dooney, Darren Hughes, James Turley; Paul Finlay, Conor McManus, Thomas Freeman. Subs: Stephen Gollogly for Dooney (52), David Hughes for O’Connell (58), Stephen Smyth for Turley (60), Christopher McGuinness for Finlay (70).