Laois 3-12 Fermanagh 1-11
Allianz Football League Division 2
Two late goals from Gary Walsh helped Laois to an unlikely and thrilling win over Fermanagh in Enniskillen this afternoon.
And the result ensures Laois’s survival in Division 2 for the 2021 season.
It had all looked so unlikely when captain Kieran Lillis got his marching orders late on and Laois trailed by five points but a Gary Walsh penalty and then another, a couple of minutes later after mix-up on a Fermanagh kickout, put them ahead for the first time since the opening minute.
Paul Kingston then made sure of the win with a third Laois goal in a matter of minutes and late points from Walsh and sub Michael Keogh helped Laois to a seven-point win.
And what a timely boost ahead of their Leinster championship opener against Longford or Louth in two weeks time.
Laois needed to win to have any chance of staying up but they struggled to make any real impact on the game in the opening stages against a defensive Fermanagh side.
The Laois players drove up individually and in a sign of these Covid times, their pre-match meal was eat in the stand of Mullahoran GAA club in Cavan having been brought up the country by the team’s caterer Bosco Ramsbottom.
The returning Paul Kingston got Laois off to a positive start with a fine point from play but there wasn’t a huge amount to shout about in the first half.
Though playing against the wind, Tomas Corrigan and Lorcan McStravick put Fermanagh into the lead but the sides were level at the water break after a nice Eoin Lowry score but Fermanagh got three points in the second quarter to lead 0-5 to 0-3 at half-time, Laois’s only score coming from a Gary Walsh free.
Laois also lost experienced midfielder John O’Loughlin before half time. The second half was always going to be a battle.
Laois were much improved, though, on the restart and a couple of nice points from Evan O’Carroll, Eoin Buggie, Brian Daly and a Gary Walsh free had them briefly back level at 0-7 apiece.
Fermanagh then got two disputed points in quick succession – from Corrigan and midfielder Ryan Jones – and another Corrigan free had them 0-10 to 0-7 up at the second water break.
It seemed as if the game was beyond Laois within a minute of the game getting underway.
Niall Corbet made a save on Ciaran Corrigan but Tomas Corrigan was on hand to finish soccer style to the net.
Laois did respond well to that score with points from Walsh and O’Carroll and when Kieran Lillis picked up a straight red card late on for a high challenge on a Fermanagh defender, it seemed to be the final nail in Laois’s coffin.
But a Walsh penalty after a foot block on Paul Kingston got Laois back into it and they took the lead when the Ballylinan man got his second moments later.
Kingston then got a third after a defence splitting run from Brian Byrne and Laois were safe.
The trip back down the country will be all the shorter after that win.
SCORERS – Laois: Gary Walsh 2-5 (1-0 penalty, 0-5 frees), Paul Kingston 1-1, Evan O’Carroll 0-2, Eoin Lowry 0-1, Brian Daly 0-1, Michael Keogh 0-1, Eoin Buggie 0-1. Fermanagh: Tomas Corrigan 1-5 (0-4 frees), Stephen McGullion 0-2, Lorcan McStravick 0-1, Sean McNally 0-1 (free), Ryan Jones 0-1, Daragh McGurn 0-1
LAOIS: Niall Corbet; Trevor Collins, Mark Timmons, Brian Byrne; Robbie Pigott, Seamus Lacey, Alan Farrell; John O’Loughlin, Kieran Lillis; Danny O’Reilly, Paul Kingston, Gareth Dillon; Eoin Lowry, Evan O’Carroll, Gary Walsh. Subs: Brian Daly for O’Loughlin (22), Shane Bolger for Pigott (HT), Eoin Buggie for Farrell (45), Michael Keogh for Dillon (54), Mark Barry for Lowry (56)
FERMANAGH: Sean McNally; Jonny Cassidy, Kane Connor, Luke Flanagan; Josh Largo-Ellis, James McMahon, Cain McManus; Stephen McGullion, Ryan Jones; Declan McCusker, Ciaran Corrigan, Daragh McGurn; Lorcan McStravick, Richard O’Callaghan, Tomás Corrigan. Sub: Aidan Breen for McStravick (40), Paul McCusker for Fargo Wells (48), Danny Teague for McManus (57)
REFEREE: Fergal Kelly (Longford)