Saturday 24 August 2019

Brennan hails Laois spirit in pulsating defeat of Offaly

Laois 4-22 Offaly 3-21

Laois now welcome Antrim to O’Moore Park next Saturday while Offaly are on the road to Mullingar. (stock image)
Laois now welcome Antrim to O’Moore Park next Saturday while Offaly are on the road to Mullingar. (stock image) Sportsdesk

Laois boss Eddie Brennan praised his side's character and strength and depth after they came through a pulsating battle with Offaly on Saturday night to open their Joe McDonagh cup campaign with victory on the road.

A crowd of just over 3,000 in Tullamore saw six second-half goals with sub Stephen Bergin firing the final one and driving Laois on for the win.

"It was a mighty battle and we expected nothing else coming over to Tullamore to play an Offaly team fighting for their lives.

"We definitely had to earn the win. We were delighted with how the lads responded like any time we were hit for a goal."

The sides were level at half time 1-10 to 0-13 but Laois hit 11 first half wides. Laois boss Brennan beamed at how his players kept shooting.

"You don't always expect lads to have exhibitions. For me, what I always look for is that no matter what happens that you stick at it until the very end."

The second half was a mile a minute. Laois hit two goals in three minutes eight minutes after the restart but Offaly had Oisín Kelly in fine form up front and his second goal left Laois only leading by a point with 27 minutes left.

Eanna Lyons fired the third Laois goal but there was more to come as Conor Mahon burst through the heart of the Laois defence to rifle to the roof of the net to cut the Laois lead.

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With two minutes of normal time left, Laois sub Stephen Bergin scored a goal with his first touch and they hung on through 11 minutes of injury time to claim their first victory of the cup campaign.

Laois now welcome Antrim to O'Moore Park next Saturday while Offaly are on the road to Mullingar and Offaly boss Kevin Martin was keeping positive.

"It's not the result we wanted but I have to say that the lads gave it 110 percent. The game could have went any way and we could have won it as easy as we lost it.

"It's do or die now and we have to go down to Mullingar and win it. When you fall off the horse, you are better off getting back up on it straight away."

Scorers - Laois: M Kavanagh 0-11 (8fs, 1 S/L), C Dwyer 1-3, R King 0-4, E Lyons and P Purcell 1-1 each, S Bergin 1-0, C Phelan, W Dunphy 0-1 each. Offaly: J Bergin 0-11 (8fs), O Kelly 2-3, C Mahon 1-1, N Houlihan, C Gath, D O'Toole-Greene, K Dunne, C Egan and C Langton 0-1 each.

OFFALY - E Cahill; P Rigney, B Conneely, T Spain; C Gath, P Camon, N Houlihan; D O'Toole-Greene, K Dunne; C Kiely, S Dooley, C Egan; C Mahon, J Bergin, O Kelly. Subs: C Langton for C Kiely (58), J Gorman for S Dooley (67), D Shortt for D O'Toole-Greene (68).

LAOIS - E Rowland; D Hartnett, J Phelan, M Whelan; J Kelly, R Mullaney, L Cleere; P Delaney, J Lennon; C Dwyer , W Dunphy, M Kavanagh; P Purcell, E Lyons, R King. Subs: C Phelan for J Lennon (48), N Foyle for E Lyons (58), A Dunphy for J Kelly (64), S Berg in for Dunphy (67), E Killeen for J Phelan (70+8).

Ref - C Cunning (Antrim)

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