Tipperary through to face Wexford but 14-man Laois exit Championship with heads held high
Tipperary 2-25 Laois 1-18
Laois, taking part in the All-Ireland quarter finals for the first time in 40 years, put on a brave show before going out of the championship - but they were far from outclassed by raging favourites Tipperary at Croke Park. A county who battled against relegation to the third tier of the championship only last year made it more difficult for the Premier than widely anticipated.
Their cause was made all the more onerous when Aaron Dunphy was sent off four minutes into the second half for striking after referee Colm Lyons consulted with a linesman while a lineball was about to be taken. Tipperary had Michael Breen sent off in the 69th minute on a second yellow card but had an extra man for around half an hour after the interval.
Liam Sheedy's side was seeking to bounce back from their Munster final defeat by Limerick a fortnight earlier and found this match no cakewalk. They didn't impress and will hope for a major improvement when they face Leinster champions Wexford in the semi finals. With many of their forwards off colour, they relied on Jason Forde for most of their scores, their main marksman posting 1-12, just two of those from play.
Having led by eight points at one stage in the first half they were met with a Laois rally that reduced the lead to just three, before Noel McGrath's injury time point helped the favourites to a 2-11 to 1-10 interval lead. The goal which gave Laois renewed hope after the match appeared to be slipping from their grasp was scored by Ross King, a cool finish after Dunphy’s through ball.
Dunphy scored two excellent points from play and Mark Kavanagh hit five frees from five attempts in the opening half as Laois refused to roll over despite two first half goals from Tipp by Forde, a penalty, and Seamus Callanan. John Lennon dropped back as a sweeper and they crowded their half of the field to reduce the goal threat. Yet, Tipp breached their defence twice and could have had a couple of more goals.
Laois led 0-4 to 0-2 when Forde made a fine catch from a long delivery and was fouled in the square in the 11th minute. Forde struck the penalty forcefully to the top corner and five minutes later Laois were rocked by another goal from Callanan. A radar-like delivery from Noel McGrath was killed on the stick by Callanan who then made room to fire low past Enda Rowland.
Points by Jack Kelly, one of Laois' best players, and Lennon kept the underdogs in the match but they needed Rowland to come to their rescue in the 23rd minute when Tipperary tried to work a third goal. The Laois goalkeeper saved from John McGrath and suffered an injury in rushing out to protect the loose ball.
Three minutes later Lennon cleared off the line with Rowland beaten by Callanan's goal attempt. From the resulting ’65 Forde scored to open up a seven point lead, 2-8 to 0-7, the gap already beginning to widen nearing the half hour mark.
That moved to eight points before Kavanagh scored his fourth free from four attempts with a half hour played and Dunphy had his second score from play to give Laois a much needed boost in cutting the deficit to six points. Forde replied with a free, but in the final minute of the first half King’s goal stunned Tipp, Kavanagh adding a free to leave only a goal between the teams.
Tipp were well off their best and the scintillating form evident in the round robin in Munster. Ger Browne, a debutant, and one of four changes from the Munster final, picked off two neat points in the first half but faded and Callanan looked threatening early on but was less visible as the match progressed. From eight points up they failed to kill off Laois, allowing them a way back into the match despite Tipp having an extra man at the back.
Laois, playing their third weekend in a row, and having had the excitement of the McDonagh Cup success quickly followed by a shock victory over Dublin, took 11 minutes to score in the second half and by then they were down to 14 men with Dunphy's dismissal. But while the mission was nigh on impossible they kept trying to make a contest of it. Two points in a row from Kavanagh, a free, and Kelly, the wing back’s second, left five between then.
But with Forde landing frees on a regular basis Tipp gradually moved safely clear.
Scorers: Tipperary - J Forde 1-12 (0-9 fs, 1-0 pen, 0-1 65); S Callanan 1-2, N McGrath 0-3, G Browne, R Maher 0-2, A Flynn, P Maher, J McGrath, B Heffernan 0-1. Laois - M Kavanagh 0-11 (0-11 fs), R King 1-0, A Dunphy, J Kelly 0-2, W Dunphy, J Lennon, P Purcell 0-1.
Tipperary: B Hogan; C Barrett, J Barry, A Flynn; B Maher, P Maher, R Maher; N McGrath, G Browne; D McCormack, J O’Dwyer, N O’Meara; J Forde, S Callanan, J McGrath.
Subs: M Breen for Flynn (48 mins); M Kehoe for O’Dwyer (54); J Cahill for Browne (57); B Heffernan for Barry (62); J Morris for O’Meara (68).
Laois: E Rowland; L Cleere, M Whelan, J Phelan; J Kelly, R Mullaney, P Delaney; J Lennon, P Purcell; A Dunphy, M Kavanagh, E Lyons; W Dunphy, C Dwyer, R King.
Subs: E Killeen for Phelan (ht); S Maher for Dwyer (44); C Phelan for Lyons (58); S Bergin for Dunphy (inj 60); E Gaughan for Lennon (67).
Referee: C Lyons (Cork).