Laois Minor Ladies produced one of their finest displays of skill and determination this year to defeat a very tough Monaghan side last Saturday in Ashbourne.
Despite the high temperature the game got off to a flying start with Monaghan first to score with an early goal and point. Laois responded well though with a point from play by Shannon Costello and then a free by Laura Marie Maher.
Monaghan were still on top however and quickly added two more well taken points, with Laura Marie Maher again on target with a point from play for Laois. Laois were struggling to create space in their forwards and following a wayward pass in the Laois attack Muireann O’Rourke won the ball back for Monaghan and the ball was worked back up the pitch and finished in the Laois net.
With the scoreline now reading 2-3 to 0-3 after 20 minutes Laois looked to be in a bit of trouble. Management introduced Lauren Kearney to the Laois attack and made a number of positional switches, with captain Ciara Burke moving to centre forward and Aine Fitzpatrick moving in to full forward.
The changes completely galvanised the Laois attack and within minutes they were back on track. Lauren Kearney shot through the Monaghan defence for her first score, the next attack resulted in a free which Laura Marie slotted over and then Aine Fitzpatrick showed great skill to score a fine point with her back turned to the goals.
Laois midfielders Meaghan Dunne and Aine Haberlin had now got to grips with the Monaghan midfield pairing and points from Lauren Kearney, Aine Fitzpatrick, Ciara Burke and Laura Marie Maher levelled the game just before half-time, leaving the score at 2-4 to 0-10.
Laois had the benefit of a slight breeze in the second half and this was to prove very beneficial. Laois got off to the flying start this time with Ciara Burke setting up Shannon Costello for the first point of the second half.
Laois scored four unanswered points from play with Laura Marie Maher, Caoimhe Simms, Aine Fitzpatrick and Ciara Burke on target. With the Monaghan defence in trouble now, Laois quickly capitalised. Laura Marie Maher won a kick out which she dropped into the arms of the waiting Ciara Burke. Burke soloed the ball around two defenders and buried it in the Monaghan net.
With a little over 10 minutes gone in the second half Laois were now eight points clear and Monaghan had yet to score. Monaghan captain Muireann O Rourke attempted to rally her team with a well worked point which narrowed the gap to seven. Lauren Kearney quickly replied with another point for Laois.
The introduction of Laois substitute Niamh Power put an end to Monaghan’s hope of a comeback however as within minutes of being introduced she won a rebound in the square and finished it neatly in the Monaghan net.
Another goal from Ciara Burke was the icing on the cake, and Laois now advance to the All-Ireland ‘B’ final on August 5 against Clare.
LAOIS: Fiona Kelly, Kellie Preston, Clodagh Dunne, Fiona Dooley, Claire Dollard, Any Loughman, Meaghan Dunne, Aine Haberlin, Ciara Burke (captain, 2-2), Aine Fitzpatrick (0-3), Laura Marie Maher (0-8), Shannon Costello (0-2), Caoimhe Simms (0-1), Rachel O Connell Subs: Lauren Kearney (0-3), Niamh Power (1-0), Cliodhna Dunne (0-1), Niamh Dunne, Sharon Kelly.