Home Sport GAA Strong first half sees hard-working Laois footballers claim first win of 2022

Strong first half sees hard-working Laois footballers claim first win of 2022

Laois 1-12 Meath 0-9
O’Byrne Cup Round 2

It is only the O’Byrne Cup in the middle of January but when you’ve just been hammered by Wexford four days previous and haven’t won a match in more than a year – this was exactly what the Laois footballers needed.

Billy Sheehan’s charges were thorn asunder in Enniscorthy on Saturday but they were brilliant in Stradbally tonight – running out six point winners over Andy McEntee’s Meath.

Laois’s intent was clear from the start as they pushed up on Meath and pressed them all over the field.

They disrupted their kick-out, turned them over on countless occasions and scores followed leaving them ten points clear at half time.

While they couldn’t sustain it in the second half and did drop back, the cushion was wide enough for them to hold on and win.

Mark Barry, Sean Moore and Paul Kingston all scored for Laois in a blistering opening ten minutes as they starved Meath of possession.

James Conlon opened The Royals account after 11 minutes but Laois hit straight back with three more points.

Mark Barry landed an excellent one from play, keeper Danny Bolger slotted a 45 and his clubmate Brian Byrne then pointed.

Thomas O’Reilly ended the first quarter with a point for Meath – but Laois led 0-6 to 0-2 –  a big difference from Saturday when they trailed 3-3 to 0-3.

Laois continued to dominate when play resumed as Mark Barry added two more points either side of an Evan O’Carroll score.

Meath failed to score at all in this period as the Laois backs stood firm every time the ball entered their zones and forced them into taking shots from unfavorable positions.

There was one hairy moment in the 22nd minute when Laois lost the ball in defence and Meath countered with Joey Wallace punching the ball off the post.

And Laois went further ahead on the stroke of half time. John O’Loughlin’s long range effort deceived Andrew Colgan and ended up in the back of the net.

Laois led 1-9 to 0-2 at half time and quickly extended that by the 40th minute as Gareth Dillon and Evan O’Carroll pointed either side of a James Conlon score.

Laois would go 25 minutes without a score after that as they tired and the visitors inevitably took control of the game.

Conlon, Cillian O’Sullivan and sub David McEntee, who landed a brace of frees, all pointed to narrow the gap to 1-11 to 0-7 at the second water break.

Laois were also thankful for sub keeper Niall Corbet who pulled off a fantastic save a point blank range during that phase of play.

Thomas O’Reilly and McEntee added further scores when play resumed and then they almost had a goal in the 63rd minute.

Laois lost the ball in defence and Cillian O’Sullivan went baring down on goal and flicked the ball past the advancing Niall Corbet where another Meath man was waiting to slot it home only for the excellent Gareth Dillon to get back and stop a certain goal.

Midfielder Kieran Lillis then smashed over an inspirational point off his left foot from distance to settle the match.

Laois now face Wicklow in their final group game on Saturday in Crettyard at 2pm.

SCORERS – Laois: Mark Barry 0-4 (two frees), John O’Loughlin 1-0, Evan O’Carroll 0-2, Paul Kingston, Sean Moore (free), Brian Byrne, Danny Bolger (45), Gareth Dillon and Kieran Lillis 0-1 each Meath: David McEntee (all frees) and James Conlon 0-3 each, Thomas O’Reilly 0-2 (one free), Cillian O’Sullivan 0-1

LAOIS: Danny Bolger (Graiguecullen); James Kelly (St Joseph’s), Trevor Collins (Graiguecullen), Alex Mohan (Portarlington); Sean O’Flynn (Courtwood), John O’Loughlin (Rosenallis), Gareth Dillon (Portlaoise); Kieran Lillis (Portlaoise), James Finn (Ballyfin); Brian Byrne (Graiguecullen), Paul Kingston (Arles-Killeen), Paddy O’Sullivan (Portarlington); Mark Barry (O’Dempsey’s), Evan O’Carroll (Crettyard), Sean Moore (Ballyfin). Subs: Niall Corbet (Clonaslee-St Manman’s) for Bolger (ht), Gary Walsh (Ballylinan) for Moore, Dylan Kavanagh (The Heath) for Mohan and Cormac Murphy (Crettyard) for Byrne (all 45), Cathal Fennessy (Ballylinan) for O’Sullivan (52), Podge Dunne (Park-Ratheniska) for Finn (54), Ross Munnelly (Arles-Kilcruise) for Barry (61), Collins Ugochukwu (Courtwood) for Dillon (70), Joey Shelly (Rosenallis) for O’Carroll (71)

MEATH: Andrew Colgan; Robin Clarke, Donal Keoghan, Ronan Ryan; Niall Kane, Gavin McGowan, Danny Dixon; Shane McEntee, Mathew Costello; Padraic Harnan, Eamon Wallace, Cillian O’Sullivan; Joey Wallace, Thomas O’Reilly, James Conlon. Subs: David McEntee, Keith Curtis, Adam Kealy, Shane Finnegan, Jordan Muldoon, James O’Hare

REFEREE: Keith O’Brien (Westmeath)

SEE ALSO – Check out all our coverage of the Laois senior football team

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.