Supersub Moolick fires late leveller to deny Laois
Kildare 0-16 Laois 0-16
After a drawn championship game one team always takes a little bit more from avoiding defeat. Kildare will hope that Tommy Moolick's late equaliser and next weekend's replay in O'Connor Park will be the platform for them to launch a meaningful campaign.
The knowledge that the awesome Dubs await the winners in the Leinster semi-final bears all the trappings of a booby prize, but neither side appeared too perturbed by the idea of facing Jim Gavin's troops as they tore strips off each other on Saturday evening.
Both teams had chances to win it and neither could. Kildare missed three clear-cut goal chances, while Laois could have snatched it with the last kick but substitute Paul Kingston's effort from the right wing slipped wide.
Not making the most of their opportunities means both sides will regard this as an opportunity lost. Kildare skipper Eamonn Callaghan almost bit referee Cormac Reilly's hand off when the toss fell his way: the Lilywhites would play with the gale behind them in the first half.
But too often their build up play in this period was perpendicular to the sidelines. Afterwards manager Jason Ryan admitted as much and he thought that ponderous first quarter cost his team.
"Considering the first 15 minutes when we had such strong wind behind us and we didn't really make it count, both teams will look at it that they coughed up too much possession and both didn't make the maximum use of the wind," said Ryan.
"But we are delighted to have another week's training for a lot of our players that haven't come back from knocks and injuries.
"Its another game under their belts in what we want to be a good championship run this year.
"One thing about the group is that they are becoming more aware of what works and what doesn't work," he said.
"They, as a group, realised at half-time that certain things didn't go according to plan and they coughed up too much possession. It's so easy when something is not going according to plan to go away on a tangent and the guys stuck it out to the end which is very pleasing."
Ryan was happy to pick through the positives, his opposite number Tomás Ó Flatharta - while turning the good side out - had reason to believe his team had the win in the bag.
A two-point deficit with 20 minutes remaining was transformed into a three-point advantage 15 minutes later as the O'Moore County punished Kildare's reluctance to go for the jugular.
Three frees - two from the outstanding Donie Kingston, who led the line superbly - and two excellent points from play via John O'Loughlin and Kingston looked to have pushed Laois over the line, but they surrendered to the late point from Moolick, who did well having come on as a 41st minute sub for Cathal McNally.
"I was really pleased with the performance, I thought the lads fought very well and you can never take it for granted that a championship game is won. You have to keep going until the very end," said Ó Flatharta.
"Maybe it taught us a lesson that you have to do that. But we have another chance at it. I thought they worked very hard, the backs did very well and around the middle of the field we won a lot of ball out there and kicked some nice scores.
"When you have to meet each other again, when you're a point behind at half-time and three points in front with a few minutes to go and the other team come back to you, I think there's great credit due to both sets of players on each side of it."
Despite having wind advantage, Kildare only led a 0-9 to 0-8 lead at the interval. Much of that was down to Laois' dominance in defence and at midfield where Brendan Quigley and O'Loughlin swept aside Kildare's early efforts in the middle third.
But any time Kildare managed to get quick ball into their sparsely populated forward line they did huge damage. Alan Smith could have goaled in the 21st minute, but his curled effort clipped the crossbar on its way to a point, while Eamonn Callaghan was also creative when picked out.
But it was the arrival of Moolick that transformed Kildare as he began to win primary possession around midfield. His first point arrived six minutes after his introduction; he had a late goal chance saved well by Graham Brody and he also drilled over the equaliser in the 72nd minute.
"Tommy was one of our best players last year and the guy had a real tough January, February and March. I was tough on him with a serious knee injury," said Ryan.
"It's taken him time to get back to what he's capable of playing, but we're delighted with the progress. An extra game for him is just brilliant."
They do it again on Saturday next, but whoever wins will need the extra game's preparation ahead of their semi-final with the four-in-a-row Leinster winners and the favourites for the All-Ireland.
Scorers - Laois: D Kingston 0-8 (5f), R Munnelly 0-3 (3f), D Strong and J O'Loughlin 0-2 each, T Shiel 0-1 (1f). Kildare: E O'Flaherty 0-5 (5f), P Fogarty 0-3 (2f, 1'45), A Smith and Moolick 0-2 each, E Callaghan, Gary White, E Bolton and P Cribbin 0-1 each.
Laois - G Brody 8; S Attride 7, M Timmons 7, C Begley 6; R Kehoe 7, D Strong 8, D O'Connor 6; B Quigley 8, J O'Loughlin 8; N Donoher 6, C Boyle 7, E O'Carroll 7; R Munnelly 6, D Kingston 9, T Shiel 7. Subs: C Meredith 5 for Shiel (51), B Sheehan 5 for Meredith (64), P Kingston 5 for O'Carroll (67).
Kildare - M Donnellan 7; C Fitzpatrick 7, M O'Grady 7, O Lyons 6; K Murnaghan 6, F Conway 6, E Bolton 7; G White 6, P Cribbin 6; E Callaghan 7, E O'Flaherty 7, C McNally 7; P O'Neill 7, P Fogarty 7, A Smith 8. Subs: T Moolick 8 for McNally (41), N Kelly 7 for Fogarty (56), E Doyle 6 for Murnaghan (59), F Dowling for O'Neill (66), D Hyland for White (69).
Ref - Cormac Reilly (Meath).