It was daylight robbery in the first Leinster senior football quarter-final as an injury time Ross Munnelly goal stole the game for Laois from the grasp of neighbours Offaly in the most dramatic of circumstances as the game finished 1-10 to 1-08.
Offaly had led from the time Mark Daly opened the scoring with a goal in the 10th minute and were by far the better side for most of the game leading by six points at half time. However, a second half come back by Laois put them within striking distance and the Faithfulmen were pipped by Munnelly’s late strike from close range.
Laois in contrast were dire in the first half and could only muster two points as Offaly dominated in most sectors but they will surely rue the amazing total of 19 wides that they shot in the game, with nine of them in the first 35 minutes.
The Laois goal coincided with the return of Beano McDonald who made his first appearance since his horrific leg break against Tyrone last year and he was only minutes in the game when he won a ball that led directly to the goal.
Beano fed Stephen Kelly and when his high shot landed in the Offaly square it fell to Munnelly who made no mistake.
Offaly played strong committed football from the throw-in and while both sides missed early chance, it was a sweeping move that ended with Neville Coughlan pass to Mark Daly and the center forward tucked it away in the corner of the net.
Laois replied with a Pauric Clancy point in the 13th minute but Offaly hit four scores in a row with James Coughlan, Niall McNamee, Colm Quinn and Neville Coughlan all on target to lead by six points after 30 minutes.
Ross Munnelly and Mark Daly traded points before the break to leave Offaly in front 1-5 to 0-2 at half time.
Laois obviously got a lashing at half time from Micko as they were a transformed team on the restart and points from Noel Garvan and Chris Conway brought them back into contention and while Pascal Kelleghan got one back for Offaly further scores from Donie Brennan and Ross Munnelly left Micko’s men just three points in arrears.
Offaly rallied and substitute John Reynolds kicked a fine point and Neville Coughlan added another to give them a five-point lead after 21 minutes and a semi final place was calling.
Laois however stuck to their task and three points in as many minutes from Ross Munnelly, captain Kevin Fitzpatrick and Munnelly again had them just two points in arrears and when Chris Conway pointed with two minutes remaining there was only a point between the sides.
Laois came in search of the equalizer but shocked all in attendance with their last gasp goal to secure a semi final place against all the odds.
Laois: F Byron, A Fennelly, D Rooney, J Higgins, C Begley, T Kelly, P McMahon, P Clancy 0-1, N Garvan 0-1, R Munnelly 1-4, I Fitzgerald, G Kavanagh, D Brennan 0-1, K Fitzpatrick 0-1, C Conway 0-2.
Subs: B Sheehan for Kavanagh, S Kelly for Fitzgerald, B McDonald for Brennan.
Offaly: P Kelly, C Daly, C Evans, S Brady, B Mooney, S Sullivan, K Slattery, C McManus, A McNamee, C Quinn 0-1, M Daly 1-1, N Coughlan 0-2, N McNamee 0-1, P Kelleghan 0-1, J Coughlan 0-1.
Subs: J Grennan for Quinn, J Kenny for Kelleghan, J Reynolds 0-1 for J Coughlan.