Sweeney class inspires Tipperary past 14-man Laois
Tipperary 3-17 Laois 4-9
PETER Creedon's Tipperary held firm in Portlaoise last night to claim a famous victory in the All-Ireland senior football qualifiers.
Tipperary 3-17 Laois 4-9
The visitors led by 2-10 to 1-3 at half-time but Laois recovered to draw level with seven minutes of normal time remaining - and they looked the more likely winners at that point.
In an incredible finish, however, Laois lost Pádraig McMahon to a black card and when Conor Meredith suffered a similar fate, the O'Moore men had to finish the game with 14 men.
Meredith's black card was their third - with Robbie Kehoe beginning an unwanted trend in the 44th minute. With the man advantage, Tipp were able to see the game out as Barry Grogan netted the killer goal in the 69th minute.
Tipp were off to a flier in the third minute when two-goal hero Conor Sweeney collected a raking Barry Grogan pass before taking advantage of a defensive slip to coolly slot home from close range. Laois hit back with a goal of their own in the eighth minute as John O'Loughlin powered through from midfield before lashing a low drive past Paul Fitzgerald.
The sides were level at 1-3 apiece after 15 minutes but Tipp embarked on a scoring spree that saw them lead by 10 points at the break.
Sweeney was on target again in the 25th minute, pouncing from close range after Laois goalkeeper Graham Brody fumbled Grogan's delivery from the right touchline.
After Billy Sheehan's fisted point in the 14th minute, Laois would not score again until the 38th minute, when James Finn sparked the fightback with a Laois goal.
That was followed by a Meredith goal four minutes later and the comeback was well and truly on.
Laois kept plugging away, despite losing Kehoe to a black card, and sub David Conway hit 1-2 in five minutes to level matters. Tipp claimed that Colin O'Riordan was fouled in the build-up to Conway's 58th-minute goal but referee David Gough, who aggrieved Tipp fans with a number of decisions, allowed it to stand.
A brace of Conway points had Laois on level terms at 4-8 to 2-14 and with Tipp wilting, Tomás ó Flatharta's men looked the more likely winners but Tipp had other ideas.
Scorers - Tipperary: C Sweeney 2-2 (0-2f), B Grogan 1-3 (0-1f), P Austin 0-4, M Quinlivan 0-3, B Fox, C O'Riordan 0-2 each, P Acheson 0-1. Laois: D Conway 1-1, D Kingston 0-4 (3f), J Finn, J O'Loughlin, C Meredith 1-0 each, E Costello, B Sheehan, N Donoher, MJ Tierney (45) 0-1 each.
Tipperary: P Fitzgerald; G Mulhair, P Codd, C McDonald; C O'Riordan, R Kiely, J Coghlan; S O'Brien, G Hannigan; P Austin, P Acheson, B Fox; C Sweeney, M Quinlivan, B Grogan. Subs: I Fahey for Mulhair (48), C Kennedy for Austin (69), B Mulvihill for Grogan (70+1).
Laois: G Brody; P McMahon, P Begley, P O'Leary; D Strong, R Kehoe, C Begley; C Meaney, J O'Loughlin; C Meredith, B Sheehan, N Donoher; R Munnelly, D Kingston, D O'Connor. Subs: J Finn for Munnelly (inj, 29), S Attride for Meaney (h-t), D Conway for O'Connor (h-t), MJ Tierney for Kehoe (b/c 44), E Costello for C Begley (inj, 52), K Meaney for McMahon (b/c 65).
Referee: D Gough (Meath)
Sunday Indo Sport