The Laois ladies qualified for the All-Ireland Intermediate semi final following a six point win over Louth in Kinnegad today.
Donie Brennan’s charges were pushed hard by their fellow Leinster opponents but they came out the right side in the end.
Below, we take a more in depth look at how they did it.
1 – Player of the match – Anna Healy
This Laois team is full of players who routinely shine in every game that they play – making this choice always difficult.
But this week we’ve gone for Anna Healy – who has to be one of the most versatile players ever. The Park-Ratheniska player excelled at corner back last time but was back in more familiar territory today at wing forward.
She covered every blade of grass in Kinnegad and also scored two fine points in a tremendous display.
2 – Laois’s goal scoring threat
Laois have now scored 19 goals in eight games this year – averaging more than two per game.
And it is this ability to get goals – and coming from all areas of the pitch – that makes them so hard for any team to beat.
They scored three today and created another four chances that they didn’t take too.
3 – The role of Sarah Anne Fitzgerald
After spending most of her adult career playing camogie, Sarah Anne Fitzgerald’s decision to swap the small ball for the bigger one has proved invaluable for Donie Brennan’s charges.
She leads the line brilliantly from full forward and scored five points in today’s win. Up against Foxrock-Cabinteely’s Sarah Quinn, Fitzgerald also played a crucial role in two of Laois’s goals.
4 – The strength of the panel
Manager Brennan has built a strong panel and you could see the value of that today.
The return of Joyce Dunne has been huge and she was highly influential in the win while Clodagh Dunne also returned after missing the last two games to make a big impact.
Eva Galvin, Leah Tarpey and Alannah Havill also made appearances from the bench and played their role in a true team performance.
5 – Defending resolutely
While this Laois team is rightly praised for their attacking prowess, their ability to defend deserves praise too.
Their final score of this game came in the 48th minute and after that, they defended resolutely to see out the win.
The aforementioned Dunne, Aimee Kelly and Amy Potts are solid in the full back line while Rachel Williams, Ellen Healy and Laura Nerney are dynamic ahead of them.
Jane Moore and Fiona Dooley cover serious ground in midfield too while the half forward line of Healy, Erone Fitzpatrick and Joyce Dunne are not afraid of hard work either.
6 – Managing the conditions
As anyone who was at the game can testify, today was not the nicest type of day for football.
While at least it didn’t rain, there was a very strong wind that Laois had to play against in the first half. After a poor start, they soon adjusted and worked the ball up the field through the hands.
Scores soon followed and when Laois got ahead after the first water break, they only briefly trailed in the second half before going on to win well.
7 – What happens next?
Laois will have just seven days to regroup for the All-Ireland semi final against Wexford.
Their fellow Leinster side got the better of Down last night.
The other semi final will be between Westmeath and Kildare who got the better of Clare and Leitrim respectively.