Laois outgun Offaly in thrilling seven-goal shootout
Laois got their McDonagh Cup campaign off to a flyer last night by edging past Offaly 4-22 to 3-21 in a shootout in Tullamore, writes Brian Lowry.
Six second-half goals had the large crowd on the edge of their seat, while Mark Kavanagh led the way with a pristine exhibition of free taking.
Laois were the better side in the opening half but hit 11 wides.
Oisin Kelly's early goal put Offaly ahead but Laois found their radar in the final 15 minutes of the half to outscore their hosts by eight points to four and go in level at the break, 0-13 to 1-10.
Paddy Purcell's goal gave Laois the initiative, and soon Cha Dwyer raised another green flag. But two minutes later Offaly roared back with Kelly grabbing his second to cut the gap to a point. The game was level with 20 minutes to go before Eanna Lyons rattled the Offaly net. Again, Offaly responded, this time with a screamer of a goal from Conor Mahon.
With his first touch after coming on, Stephen Bergin fired home Laois' fourth goal with two minutes of normal time left, and Eddie Brennan's men held their nerve to hold out in 11 minutes of injury-time.
Scorers - Laois: M Kavanagh 0-11 (0-8f, 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 (0-8f), O Kelly 2-3, C Mahon 1-1, N Houlihan, C Gath, D O'Toole-Greene, K Dunne, C Egan, 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 Kiely (58), J Gorman for Dooley (67), D Shortt for 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 Lennon (48), N Foyle for Lyons (58), A Dunphy for Kelly (64), S Berg in for Dunphy (67), E Killeen for Phelan (70+8).
Referee: C Cunning (Antrim)
Meanwhile, Antrim opened with a 3-19 to 0-14 win over 14-man Kerry at Dunloy. Goals from Ciaran Clarke, Nicky McKeague and Nigel Elliott paved the way after Kerry had started the brighter.
In the Christy Ring Cup, Derry beat Down 3-20 to 2-14.
A telling stat was that when Sé McGuigan shot Derry's first wide of the game in the 35th minute, Down had shot 10 wides, squandering the advantage of the strong wind, and trailed by nine points.
Cormac O'Doherty had a remarkable half, scoring 2-6 as Derry fired 3-9 in that opening half.
In the Nicky Rackard Cup opening round, a dominant second half showing from Sligo eased them to a 2-24 to 1-19 victory over Louth in Dowdallshill.
Two late goals helped Armagh to a hard earned 2-20 to 2-14 win over Monaghan.
Sunday Indo Sport