The Laois footballers suffered their second Division 2 South loss of the season against Cork in O’Moore Park tonight.
Mike Quirke’s men were defeated by eight points – but the scoreline certainly does not tell the full story here.
We have six talking points from tonight’s game:
1 – Man of the match – Brian Byrne
Unlike last week, there are actually a number of players who are in the running for this.
Gareth Dillon was excellent at corner back and made countless key interceptions and blocks. But unfortunately his role in the second goal sees him miss out.
Robbie Pigott and Mark Timmons did little wrong beside him while John O’Loughlin was very competitive in midfield with Danny O’Reilly doing a brilliant man marking job on the dangerous Ian Maguire.
Donie Kingston was always an option in the full forward line and the fact Laois failed to score in the final 20 minutes after he was forced off with injury speaks volumes for how important he was to the team.
But we’ve gone with Graiguecullen’s Brian Byrne. In from the start after a positive showing from the bench last week, he was heavily involved in the play. Up and down the wing, he kicked two great points also.
2 – Much improved showing
After last week’s poor showing against Clare, Mike Quirke gambled on getting a response from the majority of the players that played that day and to a large extent he got it.
Laois were much better around the middle area of the field and they turned over Cork on 26 occasions in the half. With more accuracy in front of goal and less mistakes, things could have been very different.
3 – Refereeing decisions
If there was a crowd in O’Moore Park, they definitely would not have been happy with referee Barry Judge in the opening minutes.
Right after the Cork goal, Evan O’Carroll was fouled en route to goal and inside the penalty area but the referee brought the free back outside the 14 metre line for an earlier infringement.
So incensed were Laois that their protests resulted in the referee throwing up the ball and the chance was gone.
A minute later, Gareth Dillon looked to have executed a brilliant interception but the referee adjudged him to have fouled his man and Cork won a free which they eventually scored from.
In the second half, Paul Kingston had a shot that was blocked and appeared to be clearly picked off the ground by a Cork defender – the referee waved play on and Cork broke forward for an Ian Maguire score.
Small margins but they can have a big say in the overall outcome.
4 – Errant shooting and turnovers prove costly
Cork scored two first half goals and they both came from what is mentioned above.
Laois missed two relatively easy chances before conceding the first goal. The first chance was a fisted effort from Kieran Lillis that went wide and the second was an shot from Evan O’Carroll that came back off the upright.
This resulted in a Cork counter attack that ended with Luke Connolly slipping the ball to Sean White who slipped the ball under the advancing Niall Corbet.
While Cork’s second goal was a turnover from Gareth Dillon deep in his own half and Cork countered with Ruairi Deane blasting through to score.
Laois actually had 26 attempts on goal to Cork’s 20 but managed eight wides and just ten points from that.
In contrast, Cork’s first wide came after the 45th minute and they only had two in total.
5 – Results elsewhere
Mayo collected their second win in Division 2 North – condemning Westmeath to a second defeat.
If Meath defeat Down tomorrow, Westmeath will definitely be in the relegation playoff, regardless of what happens in their final game with Down.
6 – What happens next
Laois face Kildare next Saturday in O’Moore Park while Cork will take on Clare. If Kildare defeat Clare tomorrow, Laois will be in the relegation playoff regardless of their result in their final game.
The only way that Laois can now qualify for the semi final is if Clare win their last two games and Laois defeat Kildare by a very large margin in that match next week.