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Laois flex muscles ahead of Lilies test


Conor Boyle goes past the tackle of Carlow goalkeeper Robbie Molloy on his way to scoring the first goal for Laois MATT BROWNE/SPORTSFILE

Conor Boyle goes past the tackle of Carlow goalkeeper Robbie Molloy on his way to scoring the first goal for Laois MATT BROWNE/SPORTSFILE


Conor Boyle goes past the tackle of Carlow goalkeeper Robbie Molloy on his way to scoring the first goal for Laois MATT BROWNE/SPORTSFILE

Laois set up a Leinster quarter-final clash with Kildare thanks to this one-sided victory in Netwatch Cullen Park on Saturday night.

Tomas O Flatharta's side were never in any real trouble from the hosts, as Laois hit the front early and, but for a slight wobble midway through the first half, they powered to a comprehensive win.

With John O'Loughlin and Brendan Quigley dominant at midfield, Laois monopolised possession, leaving Carlow to feed off scraps.

Despite an impressive tally of 3-16, 13 wides will be a cause of concern for the management.

Laois will need to improve ahead of that quarter-final date with the Lilywhites on June 6, with revenge no doubt on their minds after Kildare's last-gasp victory over them during the league.

One thing they can be sure of in their next outing is that it will definitely provide a much stiffer test.

"I'm not sure how long it is since Laois beat Kildare last, so there will be a lot of interest in the game," acknowledged O Flathartha.

"They beat us in the league by a point, so that's always in our mind, and we have to improve on our performance from that day."

Laois made the most of wind advantage as they burst out of the blocks.

Darren Strong strode forward from wing-back to kick the game's first score in the third minute, and that set the tone.

Colm Begley landed another from distance and Donie Kingston opened his account after rounding off a nice passing move from a quickly taken Ross Munnelly free.

Carlow were struggling to make an impact at the other end, as Laois defended well and were one step ahead of the home forwards time and again.

Laois added three more points before Carlow even opened their account, as Kingston, Conor Boyle and Strong pushed their lead out to six points midway through the half.

Daniel St Ledger got Carlow on the scoreboard with a long-range free in the 18th minute, and they found some form after that.

O'Loughlin then replied for Laois, but corner-back Kieran Nolan surged forward to point for the hosts, and a Darragh Foley free saw them get within four points of the visitors, who were now struggling in front of goal.

Carlow's mini-revival seemed to jolt Laois out of their slumber, and they hit back in ruthless fashion. An incisive passing move resulted in centre-forward Boyle charging on to the ball in the penalty area, and he was able to round goalkeeper Robbie Molloy and tap into an empty net.

That score seemed to deflate Carlow, and Laois forged ahead with ruthless efficiency.

Evan O'Carroll floated over a 45, with Donie Kingston following that with a free from the left wing after younger brother Paul - making his championship debut - was fouled.

The last score of the half went to O'Loughlin, and the teams retreated to the dressing-rooms with ten points separating them, as Laois led 1-10 to 0-3.

If there was a glimmer of hope for Carlow, it was that they would enjoy wind advantage in the second half, and the early signs at least were promising.

Foley curled over a free a little over a minute in, and despite Laois hitting back with three points on the trot, both Derek Hayden and St Ledger found the target as Carlow kept the deficit at ten points.

That was as good as it got for the hosts, as Laois just slipped into a higher gear after that and left Carlow trailing in their wake. Good work from Quigley and O'Loughlin resulted in the latter scoring his third point, and corner-back Stephen Attride was then denied a goal by a brilliant Robbie Molloy save.

Laois hadn't long to wait for their second goal, though, as the superb Kingston found the back of the net a minute later. Winning possession 20 yards out, he jinked onto his right foot and unleashed a rasping low shot to the bottom corner.

He added point soon after, but was unlucky not to see another goal chalked up as Shane Redmond made a fantastic clearance off the line.

Munnelly added a point, before Alan Kelly had the honour of becoming the first Carlow forward to score, either from play or from a free, in the 61st minute, when he split the posts from the right wing.

That summed up Carlow's day, but there was one final moment of class left in the game, as Laois substitute Tom Shiel cut in from the left wing and hammered a shot to the roof of the net to put the seal on comfortable victory.

SCORERS - Laois: D Kingston 1-5 (0-2fs), C Boyle 1-1, T Shiel 1-0, J O'Loughlin 0-3, R Munnelly, D Strong 0-2 each, P Kingston, E O'Carroll (45), C Begley 0-1 each. Carlow: A Kelly, D St Ledger (fs), D Foley (fs) 0-2 each, D Hayden, K Nolan 0-1 each.

LAOIS: G Brody 7; D O'Connor 6, M Timmons 8, S Attride 7; D Strong 7, R Kehoe 7, C Begley 7; B Quigley 9, J O'Loughlin 8; N Donoher 6, C Boyle 7, E O'Carroll 7; R Munnelly 7, D Kingston 8, P Kingston 6. Subs: T Shiel 6 for P Kingston (51), B Sheehan 6 for O'Carroll (57), C Meredith 6 for Donoher (57), G Hanrahan 6 for O'Connor (60), E Lowry 6 for Munnelly (60), G Dillon for Begley (64)

CARLOW: R Molloy 8; BJ Molloy 5, S Redmond 7, K Nolan 6; M Fitzgerald 5, D St Ledger 7, B Kavanagh 6; S Gannon 6, D Foley 7; C Moran 5, E Ruth 5, D Bambrick 5; A Kelly 6, E Finnegan 6, D O'Brien 5. Subs: D Hayden 6 for Fitzgerald (ht), D Roberts 5 for Bambrick (47), J Kennedy 5 for Moran (56), E McCormack 5 for O'Brien (56), D Kelly 5 for BJ Molloy (56).

Ref - P Neilan (Roscommon)

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