Laois maintain winning streak over Wicklow in five goal thriller
LAOIS 2-16 WICKLOW 3-10
LAOIS have had the Indian sign on Wicklow for 31 years in championship meetings, ever since the Garden County pulled off a shock win in the infamous ‘Battle of Aughrim’ at the venue now known as Joule Park, Aughrim.
That was the day that hot favourites and reigning NFL champions Laois were dumped out of the Leinster campaign in a torrid game that featured four dismissals - three for Laois and one for Wicklow - after which referee Carthage Buckley was besieged in his dressing room by angry Laois followers.
Since that game on June 15, 1986, the counties have played each other four times - in 2002, 2008, 2014, and 2016, with Laois emerging as winners on every occasion.
Happily, no game between these counties has descended to the level of misbehaviour seen in ‘86, but with survival at stake in yesterday’s 1A Qualifier game, a competitive contest was expected, and we were not disappointed.
Wicklow wore a white strip, to avoid a colour clash with the visitors. The home side made one change from the team in named in the programme, with Darragh Fitzgerald replacing centre-back Paul McLoughlin.
Laois had three alterations. They started Trevor Collins for number 12 Kieran Lillis; Gary Walsh came in for Evan O’Carroll in the right corner forward slot, and David Conway played left corner forward in place of Paul Kingston.
A stiff breeze favoured Wicklow in the first half, but Laois were more effective, turning at half time with a six point lead on a 1-8 to 0-5 scoreline.
Gary Walsh did the most damage for Laois, scoring 1-3 in the opening 35 minutes.
The goal came after 11 minutes when Walsh took a pass from Donie Kingston and fired the ball into the net.
Kingston kicked the first point of the second half to move the dial to 1-9 to 0-5 in favour of Laois.
The sides exchanged a couple of scores on each side, but Paul Cunningham’s 52nd minute goal from close range turned up the heat.
With 15 minutes to play, Laois led by four points, 1-13 to 1-9. Donie Kingston and John O’Loughlin tacked on another point for Laois before Kingston slammed in Laois’ second goal.
It looked all up for Wicklow until they hit two late goals, the first from Paddy Byrne and the second by Paul Cunningham to leave the scoreline 3-10 for Wicklow to 2-16 for Laois with two minutes left for play, plus three minutes added on by the ref.
Laois: G Walsh 1-3 (1f, 2 ‘45); D Kingston 0-5; C Begley 0-2; D Conway 0-1; J O’Loughlin 0-1; T Collins 0-1; A Farrell 0-1; R Munnelly 0-1; D O’Connor 0-1;
Wicklow: S Furlong 0-3 (3f); Paddy Byrne 1-0; P Cunningham 2-3 (1f); J McGrath 0-2; M Kenny 0-2;
Laois: G Brody; D Strong, M Timmons, S Attride; E Buggie, P McMahon, D O’Connor; B Quigley, C Begley; A Farrell, J O’Loughlin, T Collins; Gary Walsh, D Kingston, D Conway
Subs: J Finn for B Quigley (32); E O’Carroll for S Attride (b/card, 42); R Munnelly for G Walsh (44); K Lillis for P McMahon (46);A Doran for E O’Carroll (61); G Dillon for D Conway (65);
Wicklow: R Lambert; C Hyland, S Kelly, B Kennedy; D Hayden, D Fitzgerald, J Crowe; D Boothman, A McLoughlin; R Finn, D Healy, C Ffrench; M Kenny, S Furlong, P Cunningham.
Subs: J McGrath for D Boothman (h.t); P Traynor for C Ffrench (h.t); Paddy Byrne for D Fitzgerald (57); Padraig Byrne for P Traynor (65);
Ref: B Cassidy (Derry)