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O’Carroll and Moore goals give Laois O’Byrne Cup semi chance following Wicklow win

Laois senior footballers
Photo: Ray Commins

Laois 2-14 Wicklow 1-11
O’Byrne Cup Round 3

A week is a long time in sport and the Laois senior footballers are testament to that fact.

This time last week, they suffered their seventh straight loss and shipped six goals in a 15 point defeat to Wexford.

A week later, and 34 different players later, Laois have won back-to-back games and are in with a chance of reaching the O’Byrne Cup semi finals.

For that to happen, Billy Sheehan’s charges now need Meath to defeat Wexford in a game that throws in at 5pm.

A Meath win or a draw results in Laois going on to meet Kildare in the semi final on Wednesday night.

Irrespective, the new management team will undoubtedly be happy with how the past seven days have gone – after a turbulent start.

They made 11 changes from the victory over Meath but in the end, it was two of the starters from that night, Sean Moore and Evan O’Carroll, who came on to score crucial goals.

Wicklow started the game the better and led by 0-4 to 0-1 after 10 minutes as Kevin Quinn, Mark Kenny, Darragh Fitzgerald and Eoin Darcy all pointed.

Paul Kingston was Laois’s only scorer in that period but they soon improved with Gary Walsh landing two frees before veteran Ross Munnelly popped up with two lovely points.

Andy Maher levelled the game at the water break – 0-5 each – and it remained tit for tat until five minutes before half time.

Darragh Fitzgerald showed the Laois defence a clean pair of heels and centered to Rory Stokes who punched the ball into the net.

This gave Wicklow a three point lead in the 31st minute but Laois’s response was very impressive.

Brian Daly, Gary Walsh, Ross Munnelly and Paul Kingston all scored to leave them ahead 0-11 to 1-7 at half time.

Laois made four changes at half time and struggled to get going in the third quarter – with an Eoin Lowry point following quick hands by Cathal Fennessy proving to be their only point.

Wicklow responded through Quinn and keeper Mark Jackson to leave it level again at the second water break – 1-9 to 0-12.

Manager Sheehan introduced O’Carroll and Moore at this stage and within two minutes they combined for Laois’s first goal of the year.

A long ball by Cathal Fennessy was fisted down by O’Carroll where Moore came in and showed nimble feet to sit down the Wicklow keeper and a defender before scoring.

Just before that, Laois keeper Matthew Byron, who was excellent all day on kick-outs, pulled off what proved to be a very important save in a one-on-one situation with Conor Byrne.

And in the 59th minute, the ball was in the net again. Sub Cian Doyle delivered in the ball to O’Carroll who shrugged off several defenders before slipping the ball into the net.

Eoin Murtagh and Mark Kenny replied with points for Wicklow but it was goals that they needed at this stage.

Instead, Laois the game safe with two classy points off either boot by Mark Barry to claim they win.

They now must wait on the outcome of the later game to find out if their O’Byrne Cup adventure continues or not.

SCORERS – Laois: Gary Walsh 0-4 (three frees), Ross Munnelly 0-3 (one mark), Sean Moore and Evan O’Carroll 1-0 each, Paul Kingston and Mark Barry 0-2 each, Eoin Lowry, Brian Daly and Cormac Murphy 0-1 each Wicklow: Mark Kenny 0-3 (one free), Rory Stokes 1-0, Eoin Darcy (both frees) and Kevin Quinn 0-2 each, Andy Maher, Eoin Murtagh, Darragh Fitzgerald and Mark Jackson (free) 0-1 each

LAOIS: Matthew Byron (Courtwood); Collins Ugochuckwu (Courtwood), Trevor Collins (Graiguecullen), Alex Mohan (Portarlington); Cathal Fennessy (Ballylinan), Alan Farrell (Ballylinan), Conal Brennan (Arles-Kilcruise); Kieran Lillis (Portlaoise), Brian Daly (St Joseph’s); Cormac Murphy (Crettyard), Paul Kingston (Arles-Killeen), Danny O’Reilly (Graiguecullen); Ross Munnelly (Arles-Kilcruise), Eoin Lowry (Killeshin), Gary Walsh (Ballylinan). Subs: Adam Campion (St Joseph’s) for Brennan, James Finn (Ballyfin) for Lillis, James Kelly (St Joseph’s) for Collins and Brian Byrne (Graiguecullen) for O’Reilly (all ht), Cian Doyle (Courtwood) for Murphy (43), Podge Dunne (Park-Ratheniska) for Daly (45), Evan O’Carroll (Crettyard) for Walsh and Sean Moore (Ballyfin) (both 52), Mark Barry (O’Dempsey’s) for Kingston and Sean O’Flynn for Fennessy (both 57)

WICKLOW: Mark Jackson; Tom Moran, Malachy Stone, Eoin Murtagh; Andy Maher, Zach Cullen, Niall Donnelly; Dean Healy, Padraig O’Toole; Craig Maguire, Mark Kenny, Darragh Fitzgerald; Rory Stokes, Kevin Quinn, Eoin Darcy. Subs: Eddie Doyle, Alan Dillon, Fintan O’Shea, Jamie Snell, John Paul Hurley, Oisin Cullen, Sam O’Dowd, Gavin Fogarty, David Devereaux, Conor Byrne

Referee: Lee Moore (Kildare)

SEE ALSO – Check out the dedicated Podcast section on the LaoisToday website here

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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.