Laois beat Offaly 2-10 to 0-13 today in the replay of the Leinster Senior Football quarter-final in Tullamore. The opening exchanges resulted in a point apiece but on the stroke of ten minutes Ian Fitzgerald got on the end of a long ball from midfield and, finding the Offaly defence in napping, hammered the ball right-footed to the net.
Within a minute the same ploy almost met with the same result but this time the Offaly goalkeeper Meehan pulled off a fine save when his defence had let him down again. By the 30th minute Offaly had drawn Laois back to parity through Ciaran MacNemee. Torrential rain, interspersed with summer hailstones, then threatened to spoil the game for players and spectators alike but both sets of players battled on valiantly. With two minutes to go in the first-half Ciaran McManus had a chance to put Offaly ahead with a shot on goal but his effort was cleared off the line by Aidan Fennelly's outstretched right leg.
Both sides were playing good football and the match seemed to be gearing up for a thriller on a par with the original fixture. However, the second-half opened slowly, with little of the excitement of the first. On ten minutes Offaly took the lead with only their second point of the half. Laois had yet to score since the restart but soon registered a goal through yet another mistake in the Offaly defence. An optimistic ball was launched into the danger zone but Brian 'Beano' McDonald failed to catch it cleanly first time. However, as he fumbled to get the ball under control he managed to get a solid contact and drilled the bouncing ball to the net, soccer style.
Offaly tried valiantly to stay in touch, but even though Laois had Paul McDonald and captain Ian Fitzgerald sent-off for high challenges, Mick O'Dwyer's men ran out winners. Laois will next meet Dublin in the semi-final while Offaly will go into the qualifiers with a game against London.
Filed by Barry J Whyte