Main Man - Stephen Maher (Laois)
He wasn’t as prominent as he was in the opening game, but he was still crucial to helping Laois win this game.
He scored 0-8, seven of which were from frees, but he was the one winning those frees on more than one occasion. He also made a terrific block to help set up a score for Padraig Lalor and also put David Freeman in the clear to point in the second half. That’s ten points he was directly involved in, and with the game being so close, a contribution such as that is immense.
For some Laois supporters, the talking point may well be that the team failed to reach the heights obtained against Dublin.
With a strong Kilkenny side now looming, it would be easy to be defeatist, but Laois have already shown they can lift their game against top opposition.
Semi-finals are all about putting in a performance good enough to make a final, and while Laois’ performance wasn’t a classic, it was good enough to beat Carlow and that’s all that really matters.
They will have to tighten up in defence, and with Bill Duggan set to join up with the panel, it will bolster that back line if he can quickly get back up to speed.
Overall, it was a positive night for Laois hurling, and all involved will know that an improvement will be needed.
The Leinster final is up next, a great thing to be able to say about any Laois hurling team.
To make things even better, the game is in O’Moore Park, on July 11, so hopefully a sizeable Laois crowd shows up to support the team on the night. The pressure is off Laois now, Kilkenny will be red-hot favourites, so hopefully another shock is on the cards.