- Offaly manager Brian Whelehan felt his side did not turn up in the first half of their league clash with Laois - a match they lost by two points
- The Laois manager sees room for improvement in spite of their league win over neighbours Offaly
- Paul O'Neill was in Tullamore to watch a well-deserved win for Laois over Offaly
Laois recorded a shock win over Offaly in O’Connor Park as they held off a late onslaught from the home side to record a fully merited 1-19 to 2-14 victory in Division 1B.
The O’Moore County were utterly dominant throughout this tie and held Offaly to just a solitary point from play in the first half, after which they led 1-9 to 0-7.
Thanks to a string of converted frees from Stephen Maher and three consecutive missed placed-ball chances from Joe Bergin, Laois stretched that lead out to seven by the final ten minutes of the second half but late goals from Daniel Currams and Dermot Mooney set up a grandstand finish, one in which the visitors narrowly held out thanks to a late Tommy Fitzgerald point.
Both sides were heavily depleted, missing over half of their championship teams from last summer, but Laois made light of their absentee list, slipping straight back into their 2013 style of play.
Dwayne Palmer played as a sweeper in front of their full-back line and the Camross player put in a man of the match performance for the away side, mopping up countless long Offaly deliveries and using the ball immaculately once in possession.
Laois used a fast, handpassing game to work the ball out of the back line and that bore fruit right from the start as Tommy Fitzgerald, Charlie Dwyer and teenager Ciarán Collier picked off early points from play.
Offaly were heavily dependent on frees and Brian Carroll’s point in the 14th minute was their only score from open play in the first 48 minutes of action, but they kept right in touch until Laois got the game’s first goal from a Stephen Maher free midway through the half.
Seven first-half wides meant that Laois were only five ahead at the break, 1-9 to 0-7, and with a light breeze to come for Offaly, the home crowd were hopeful that their side would mount an early challenge.
Another Bergin free after just thirty seconds turned out to be a false dawn however, as Laois continued to dominate the battle for loose possession and create far better scoring chances.
Critically, Laois responded to almost every Offaly point, only allowing the Faithful county to score twice in succession on two occasions.
Two Maher frees in quick succession made it 1-17 to 0-13 with just ten minutes remaining, but Offaly were given a glimmer of hope when Brian Carroll pointed a free and substitute Dan Currams struck a twenty-metre shot through a crowded goalmouth to reduce the deficit to a single goal.
Another Maher free gave Laois a little bit of breathing room but Offaly then produced a second goal in the 69th minute, Dermot Mooney striking a ground shot to the net after Joe Bergin’s initial attempt was blocked on the line.
Yet again however, Laois came up with a vital score when they needed it and even though Offaly had a half chance to sneak a win through a long-range goal effort from Stephen Quirke and a 65 close to the sideline, Laois held on to secure a well deserved victory and set up a mouth watering encounter with Cork at O’Moore Park next Saturday night.
Offaly: J Dempsey; N Wynne, D Kelliher, J Rigney; C Doughan (0-01 free), B Watkins, D Mooney (1-00); K Brady, C Parlon; P Geraghty, J Bergin (0-08, 0-07 frees), C Egan; K Connolly, S Gardiner, B Carroll (0-04, 0-02 frees).
Subs: C McDonald for Kelliher (14 mins – temporary), D Currams (1-00) for Connolly (28), S Quirke (0-01) for Egan (HT), D Kilmartin for Parlon (44), S Cleary for Geraghty (58).
Laois: E Reilly; JA Delaney, B Campion, B Stapleton; J Fitzpatrick, M Whelan, C Dunne; C Dwyer (0-03), P Whelan; S Maher (1-09, 1-07 frees), J Purcell (0-01), C Collier (0-01); D Palmer, T Fitzgerald (0-02), N Foyle (0-02).
Subs: W Hyland (0-01) for P Whelan (43), R King for Purcell (47), J Campion for Dunne (56), PJ Scully for Foyle (69).
Referee: Barry Kelly (Westmeath)