Brennan's 'soul-searching' pays off
Joe McDonagh Cup Round 4: Laois 5-17 Kerry 1-21
Eddie Brennan's Laois are into the final after beating a Kerry side who conceded goals at crucial stages in this entertaining clash at Austin Stack Park on Saturday.
Laois were six points in front at the interval and though playing against the wind in the second period, they weathered an early Kerry storm, as goals from Cha Dwyer and Paddy Purcell saw them move within touching distance of the final - despite the efforts of Shane Conway, Mikey Boyle and Padraig Boyle.
With Westmeath overcoming Antrim in the day's other fixture, Laois' third win of the campaign was sufficient to book them a final berth with one round to go.
Irrespective of how Laois fare in the final, they can look forward to an All-Ireland preliminary quarter-final fixture later in the summer.
"It's great to be where we want to be and it's what we set out to do. I am delighted for the players because we have done a lot of hard work over the past six months and there has been a lot of soul-searching too," said Brennan.
Kerry boss Fintan O'Connor rued the concession of too many goals, saying: "In fairness, the initial thought would be that the better team won, maybe.
"We started well, but the concession of the goals in the first-half, two early quick-fire goals. Now, we settled after that, at the start of the second-half we felt we were well in it, and then kind of conceded 1-2 from turnovers and then the game was more or less beyond us. We were chasing it after that.
"Laois are a serious team. They were the better team on the day, in fairness, that would be my initial reaction. "
Laois hit two goals within a minute of each other, with Aaron Dunphy and Ross King hitting the net, before a Niall Foyle effort.
Padraig Boyle scored a goal for Kerry and had the margin back to three, 2-6 to 1-6, by the 22nd minute, but Laois led 3-11 to 1-11 at the interval.
They sensed the win after the break, and kicked on with Dwyer and Purcell's efforts.
Scorers - Laois: A Dunphy, C Dwyer 1-3 each, S Maher 0-6 (5f), N Foyle 1-2, R King 1-1, P Purcell 1-0, J Kelly, W Dunphy 0-1 each. Kerry: S Conway 0-10 (6f, 3 '65s), P Boyle 1-5, M Leary 0-2, J O'Connor, D Collins, J Goulding, M Boyle 0-1 each.
Laois - E Rowland; M Whelan, J Phelan, D Hartnett; J Kelly, R Mullaney, P Delaney; J Lennon, P Purcell; A Dunphy, N Foyle, S Maher; W Dunphy, C Dwyer, R King. Subs: S Bergin for R King (49); L Cleere for Phelan (52); C Phelan for N Foyle (60); E Kileen for Kelly (66); L Burke for Delaney (70).
Kerry - JB O'Halloran; S Weir, B Murphy, J O'Connor; E Murphy, M Boyle, D Collins; D Goggin, T O'Connor; M O'Leary, J Goulding, P Kelly; S Conway, P Boyle, C Harty. Subs: J Buckley for Murphy (28); J Conway for Goggin (44); M Slattery for Harty (50).
Ref - J Murphy (Limerick)