Healy leads by example as Laois punish 12-man Carlow
Laois 2-18 Carlow 0-13
Laois produced an excellent second-half display to book their place in the Leinster's last four at the expense of 12-man Carlow in O'Moore Park.
Seamus Plunkett's men outscored Carlow 1-10 to 0-5 in the second half, with the frustration eventually getting the better of the Barrowsiders as they saw three men sent off in the last five minutes.
Shane Kavanagh, Jack Kavanagh and Paul Coady all saw red in a madcap end to the game, rounding off a miserable occasion for John Meyler's outfit.
For Laois, it is further progress after a couple of barren years at inter-county level, and they can now look forward to their meeting with Galway.
Both teams looked nervy in the opening exchanges as some simple chances were missed, and it wasn't until the fourth minute that the deadlock was broken thanks to a free from Laois' Stephen Maher.
Carlow replied with a point from Edward Coady, and the same player then put the visitors in front in the 11th minute.
Maher and John Michael Nolan then traded frees before Laois struck for the first goal. An innocuous-looking ball into the penalty area looked to have been dealt with by goalkeeper Frank Foley, only for Willie Hyland to dispossess him, flick the ball wide and then kick it to an empty net.
The Carlow response was impressive, though, as they hit straight back with a point from distance by Hugh Patrick O'Byrne.
But Neil Foyle won a free that Maher tapped that over as Laois managed to keep their noses in front.
Carlow were working hard, though, and eventually got back on level terms with two unanswered points from Marty Kavanagh and O'Byrne to tie the scores at 1-4 to 0-7 after 32 minutes.
That seemed to trigger something in Laois, and they picked things up from there to half- time.
Maher pointed twice, once from a free, and then Cahir Healy rounded off a fine team move to send Laois 1-7 to 0-7 ahead as the teams retreated to the dressing-rooms.
Carlow mentally remained in the changing-room for the second half as Laois blitzed them from the first whistle.
Maher pointed a free inside of a minute, and when Hyland added another from play moments later, you could see the confidence building in Laois.
They added five more points in the next eight minutes, making it seven scores without reply from the start of the second half, or 10 without reply if you count the three before half-time.
That run really deflated Carlow, but they made a recovery of sorts when they went on a run of four unanswered points themselves.
That was ended by a long-range effort from Joe Fitzpatrick, and the game was well and truly put to bed when Zane Keenan thumped a 21-yard free to the net with nine minutes to go.
That ended the game as a contest, but there was still time for drama, as Shane Kavanagh and Jack Kavanagh (second yellow) were shown red cards as players from both sides got involved with four minutes left.
Paul Coady then saw red a minute later after an off-the-ball incident, as Carlow finished with 12 players and Laois finished with an 11-point lead.
SCORERS – Laois: S Maher 0-9 (7fs), W Hyland 1-1, Z Keenan 1-0 (f), C Healy, M Whelan (2fs), J Fitzpatrick 0-2 each, T Fitzgerald, B Duggan 0-1 each. Carlow: M Kavanagh 0-4 (3fs), E Coady 0-3, H P O'Byrne 0-2, D Shaw (f), D English (f), S Murphy, J M Nolan 0-1 each
LAOIS – E Reilly 7; B Stapleton 8, B Campion 6, JA Delaney 7; J Fitzpatrick 8, M Whelan 7, G Burke 7; C Healy 9, J Walsh 7; S Maher 8, Z Keenan 7, W Hyland 8; T Fitzgerald 7, N Foyle 6, B Dunne 6. Subs: D Maher 7 for Campion (8, inj), J Brophy 7 for Dunne (53), B Duggan 7 for Foyle (54), C Dunne for Walsh (67).
CARLOW – F Foley 5; D English 6, E Nolan 6, D Shaw 6; HP O'Byrne 7, A Corcoran 7, D Byrne 6; R Coady 6, J Kavanagh 5; S Murphy 6, S Kavanagh 5, E Coady 7; C Doyle 5, M Kavanagh 6, JM Nolan 5. Subs: M Brennan 6 for Murphy (46), P Coady 5 for D Byrne (46), P Shaw 5 for JM Nolan (50), D Roberts for Doyle (67), C McCabe for D Shaw (68).
Ref – J Ryan (Tipperary).
The game at a glance
Man of the Match
Cahir Healy (Laois)
The Laois midfielder was absolutely everywhere, routinely collecting possession from his defence and driving forward as Carlow struggled to contain him. Laois football's loss is Laois hurling's gain.
Not a specific point, but Laois' scintillating start to the second half stunned Carlow and all but ended the game as a contest.
Carlow's three red cards. It's very rare for a team to finish a game with 12 men, and Carlow will probably feel aggrieved, but it made little difference to this contest in the end.
Johnny Ryan won't get any Christmas cards from Carlow this year but a case could be made for all three red cards he produced, and overall he kept the game flowing.
Zane Keenan's brilliant 21-yard free. Most players would have taken the point, but his thunderous strike settled the game in Laois' favour.
What They Said
Seamus Plunkett (Laois manager): "We will not fear Galway, we're looking forward to it, and we'll be going for a win."
John Meyler (Carlow manager): "It has never happened to me before, having three players sent off in one game."
Laois 12 (8 first half)
Carlow 11 (7)
Laois 16 (9)
Carlow 11 (3)
Laois 4 (N Foyle 21, W Hyland 21, G Burke 53, C Healy 66)
Carlow 6 (R Coady 21, C Doyle 30, J Kavanagh 35, E Coady 40, F Foley 61, J Kavanagh 66)
Carlow 3 (S Kavanagh 66, J Kavanagh 66, P Coady 68)
Laois progress to the Leinster SHC semi-final where they will look to upset the odds against Galway in O'Moore Park in two weeks' time. As for Carlow, they now prepare for the rocky road of the qualifiers.