Offaly facing relegation battle against Kerry as Laois hand Faithful county Joe McDonagh lifeline
Kery 1-21 Kerry 5-17
The Eddie Brennan-managed Laois are through to the final of the Joe McDonagh Cup after getting the better of a Kerry side who conceded goals at crucial stages in this entertaining clash at Austin Stack Park.
Laois were six in front at the interval and though playing against the wind in the second period, they weathered an early Kerry storm that reduced the deficit to four. Then a two-goal salvo in the opening 10 minutes of the second period saw Laois extend their lead to ten and emerge worthy winners.
So with Westmeath overcoming Antrim in the day’s other Joe McDonagh Cup fixture, Laois’ third win of the campaign was sufficient to book them a final berth with one round to go.
Kerry had started well and raced into a 0-3 to 0-1 lead inside the opening five minutes, with points from Shane Conway, Padraig Boyle and Mike O’Leary, but Laois soon hit their straps. They hit Kerry with a barrage of scores, 2-4 without reply in a seven-minute blitz from the fifth to the twelfth minutes that rocked the Kingdom.
Laois' first two goals came within a minute of each other, with Aaron Dunphy scoring the first and then Cha Dwyer was the provider as Ross King finished to the Kerry net. Laois had built up a 2-5 to 0-3 lead after 13 minutes. Kerry’s response was a fine Podge Boyle goal and a well-taken Daniel Collins point following Michael Boyle’s cross-field pass.
Kerry had the margin back to three, 2-6 to 1-6, by the 22nd minute, but Laois - sensing danger - kicked on with a 1-4 salvo and it was the Willie Dunphy goal after a Kerry turnover that proved the killer.
The Kingdom, to their credit, finished the half the stronger, with Podge Boyle firing over three from play, and along with two Conway frees, the deficit was back to six at the interval, 3-11 to 1-11.
Kerry closed the gap within three minutes of the restart but that was as good as it got as goals from Cha Dwyer and Paddy Purcell saw Laois move into the final despite the efforts of Shane Conway, Mikey Boyle and Padraig Boyle.
Kerry now faces Offaly in Tralee next Saturday in a battle to avoid relegation to Christy Ring with Shane Conway a major injury doubt. .
Scorers for Kerry: S Conway (0-10, 0-6 frees, 0-3 65s); P Boyle (1-5), M Leary (0-2); J O’Connor, D Collins, J Goulding, M Boyle (0-1 each).
Scorers for Laois: A Dunphy, C Dwyer (1-3 each); S Maher (0-6, 0-5 frees); N Foyle (1-2); R King (1-1); P Purcell (1-0); J Kelly, W Dunphy (0-1 each).
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).
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).
Referee: J Murphy (Limerick).