Offaly and Laois will have to meet again after their enthralling Leinster Championship quarter-final in Portlaoise this afternoon ended in a 1-12 to 1-12 draw. Both sides served up a thrilling contest which is sure to have delighted watching Brazilian World Cup winner Jairzinho, who had made the trip from South America to O'Moore Park.
The sides had been neck and neck for much of an absorbing match, drawing level no fewer than seven times throughout the 70 minutes. A superb goal from Ciaran McManus on the half-hour put Offaly in a commanding position at the break, but Laois emerged in the second-half with renewed vigour and took the game to Offaly.
Ross Munnelly and Michael Lawlor, in particular, were causing the Offaly defence major problems and a point from Stephen Kelly saw the sides level again at 1-07 to 0-10 on 49 minutes. The sides continued to exchange scores but Laois' cause was dealt a significant blow when David Sweeney was harshly dismissed on 64 minutes for a high challenge with Offaly leading 1-10 to 0-11.
However, Mick O'Dwyer's men kept their heads and Francie Byron kept his side in the match with a great save late-on. Laois half-forward Lawlor added his fourth point of the afternoon minutes later before taking a pass from Kevin Fitzpatrick 10 yards out and lashing the ball home in the first minute of injury-time.
Offaly refused to accept defeat and forced a 45 at the other end 40 seconds later. McManus kept his nerve and his side's Leinster Championship aspirations intact by converting the pressure kick and the sides will meet again, possibly over the June Bank Holiday weekend, to see who goes forward to meet either Dublin or Louth in the semi-finals.
Filed by Shane Murray