Laois 3-17 Clare 0-27
All-Ireland Hurling Qualifiers Round 1
The Laois hurlers are out of the the All-Ireland championship for 2020 following an agonising and heart-breaking one point loss to Clare in Nowlan Park this afternoon.
Laois played with an extra man throughout the second half following David McInerney’s dismissal and they embarked on a desperate comeback that just fell short.
In the end, a point was all that separated the sides following a much improved Laois performance that will give them great hope for the 2021 campaign.
Laois can feel unfortunate as a couple of decisions went against them – including what looked to be a penalty for a foul on Paddy Purcell – but it just wasn’t to be.
Laois were very good in the first quarter and competed really well with Jack Kelly very efficient in the sweeping role.
Clare started well with the first couple of points but Laois responded through Aaron Dunphy and then took the lead after seven minutes.
A long jinking run from Aaron Dunphy saw him produce a shot that was blocked only for Ross King to pounce and rattle the net.
Laois kept their noses in front through King frees and they were also thankful to their keeper Enda Rowland who pulled off two stunning one-on-one saves to deny Ryan Taylor and Shane O’Donnell in separate incidents.
Tony Kelly got Clare back into it though and the sides were level at 1-4 to 0-7 at the water break.
Things began to unravel for Laois after that though as they lost Ross King to a knee injury and Clare soon got on top.
Tony Kelly brought his tally up to ten points as Ryan Taylor, Colin Guilfoyle and Aaron Shanaghar also scored.
The game looked to be getting away from Laois until just before half time Clare were reduced to 14 men when an altercation between Mark Kavanagh and Clare captain David McInerney was spotted by the linesman.
Kavanagh was shown a yellow but McInerney got a red and Clare would have to play the remainder of the game with 14 men.
Laois grabbed a late point from Kavanagh but they trailed 0-16 to 1-6 at half time.
Laois restructured at half time and brought off sweeper Jack Kelly with Stephen Maher moving into the full forward line.
Colm Stepleton moved back to sweep and the move paid instant dividends as James Keyes burst through to score a wonderful goal.
Tony Kelly and Cathal Malone responded but Mark Kavanagh and Paddy Purcell both hit the target to reduce the margin after 42 minutes – 0-18 to 2-10.
But Clare grabbed the next five scores to settle but Mark Kavanagh converted a free to leave it 0-23 to 2-11 at the water break and 52 minutes on the clock.
The sides traded points until the 66th minute when Donnacha Hartnett and Mark Kavanagh worked the ball up the field where Aaron Dunphy drilled a shot to the net – 3-14 to 0-26 after 67 minutes.
Clare got one more score through corner back Rory Hayes and that would prove to be the winner as although Laois battled back to within one – time just ran out.
SCORERS – Laois: Mark Kavanagh 0-6 (four frees, one sideline), Ross King 1-2 (two frees), James Keyes 1-1, Aaron Dunphy 1-1, Jack Kelly 0-1, Paddy Purcell 0-2, Ciaran McEvoy 0-1, Willie Dunpny 0-2, Podge Delaney 0-1 Clare: Tony Kelly 0-13 (nine frees), Seadna Morey 0-2, David McInerney 0-2, Ryan Taylor 0-2, Colin Guilfoyle 0-1, Aaron Shanaghar 0-3, Cathal Malone 0-2, Aidan McCarthy 0-1 (one free), Rory Hayes 0-1
LAOIS: Enda Rowland; Lee Cleere, Sean Downey, Donnacha Hartnett; Eric Killeen, Podge Delaney, Ryan Mullaney; Fiachra C-Fennell, James Keyes; Aaron Dunphy, Willie Dunphy, Colm Stapleton; Mark Kavanagh, Ross King, Jack Kelly. Paddy Purcell for King (22), Stephen Maher for Kelly (ht), Ciaran McEvoy for Killeen (48), Conor Phelan for Downey (65), Mark Hennessy for Maher (69)
CLARE: Eibhear Quilligan; Paul Flanagan, Conor Cleary, Rory Hayes; Seadna Morey, Aidan McCarthy, Stephen O’Halloran; Tony Kelly, David McInerney; Colin Guilfoyle, David Reidy, Cathal Malone; Ryan Taylor, Aaron Shanaghar, Shane O’Donnell. Subs: Shane Golden for Reidy (52), Diarmuid Ryan for Guilfoyle (50), Gary Cooney for Taylor (62)
REFEREE: Thomas Walsh (Waterford)