Kelly hails 'class act' Dooley as 14-man Offaly deny Laois
Offaly 1-17 Laois 0-15
Published 22/02/2016 | 02:30
It wasn't pretty but Offaly produced a spirited performance to overcome Laois despite having Joey O'Connor sent off just eight minutes into the second half.
Conditions were dreadful in O'Connor Park and in truth it showed in the quality of hurling, but Offaly showed rousing heart and determination to pull away in the second half and grab their first points in Division 1B.
The victory was sealed by debutant Liam Langton who, after only nine minutes on the field, crashed the sliotar to the back on the net with a minute left in the game.
Shane Dooley shone for the hosts; his haul of 12 points consisted of some well taken placed balls and four superb points from play.
Offaly manager Eamonn Kelly was delighted to get off the mark while praising the contribution of Dooley.
"It was tough out there but the lads fought well, particularly when we went down to 14 men," he said.
"It looked like it would be a hill to climb at that stage but we worked very hard off the ball, especially the forwards. The backs, like last week, battled really hard and any scores Laois got, they really earned them.
"Shane is really coming into his own. He is getting fitter every week and he is a class act. He took his scores well."
Offaly led 0-9 to 0-6 at the break but with a stiff wind blowing in their favour for the opening 35 minutes, there would have been concerns in the camp that they were not further ahead.
The opening half was a damp squib with the error counts high on both sides, but both Dooley and PJ Scully got into their groove from dead balls early on before well-taken points from Paddy Murphy and Colin Egan pushed Offaly into a 0-5 to 0-3 advantage after 20 minutes.
Laois were playing second fiddle but they remained in touch with Ross King and Stephan Maher looking sharp.
Dooley was well on song by this juncture and he landed three in a row - one from play, a free and a '65' - as Offaly led 0-8 to 0-4 with five minutes left to the break.
Enda Rowland landed two long-range frees for Seamus 'Cheddar' Plunkett's men just before the break and they would have been quite content to be only three behind at the break.
Laois made the brighter start to the second half as two points from Stephen Maher helped them regain parity at 0-10 each with 42 minutes gone.
O'Connor then received his marching orders as his hurl swung back wildly on route to trying to break a tackle and caught Ciaran Collier and at this stage, it looked like Laois would push on.
But it was Offaly who stood up tall.
Led by Dooley in attack and Pat Camon in defence, the Faithful County dug deep and Dooley kept the scores coming both from frees and from play.
They led 0-17 to 0-13 with five minutes to go before the icing on the cake was delivered by Langton who displayed a cool head to dispatch past Rowland for the goal.
Scorers - Offaly: S Dooley 0-12 (7fs, 1 '65'), L Langton 1-0, P Murphy 0-2, C Egan, S Kinsella, J O'Connor 0-1 each. Laois: PJ Scully 0-5fs, S Maher 0-3, E Rowland (2fs), R King, Z Keenan (1 '65') 0-2 each, W Hyland 0-1.
Offaly - J Dempsey 7; N Wynne 7, D Shortt 7, C McDonald 7; S Gardiner 8, D Kelleher 6, P Camon 8; S Ryan 7, J O'Connor 6; P Murphy 7, C Egan 7, S Kinsella 7; S Dooley 9, J Bergin 7, J Mulrooney 6. Subs: J Gorman 6 for J Mulrooney (inj 25), P Guinan 6 for D Kelleher (49), L Langton 7 for J Gorman (60), J Sampson for S Ryan (70), S Cleary for P Murphy (70).
Laois - E Rowland 7; D Palmer 7, D Maher 7, C Healy 6; L Bergin 6, N Foyle 6, R Mullaney 6; T Delaney 7, M Whelan 7; P Purcell 6, S Maher 8, C Collier 6; R King7, W Dunphy 6, PJ Scully 7. Subs: B Reddin 6 for P Purcell (49), Z Keenan 6 for W Dunphy (53, W Hyland 6 for C Collier (54), C Stapleton 6 for T Delaney (58), M Kavanagh for PJ Scully (70).
Ref - P O'Dwyer (Carlow)