NFL DIVISION 3

Fourteen man Laois caught late on by Sligo

Relegation fears increase after third loss in four games

Rory Delaney

Reporter:

Rory Delaney

Email:

rory@leinsterexpress.ie

14 man Laois caught late on by Sligo

Donie Kingston scored 1-4 for Laois.

Laois 2-10 Sligo 0-18

The fears of a second consecutive relegation for the Laois senior footballers deepened on Sunday afternoon, as they let slip a seven point lead to Sligo in Markiewicz Park.

Peter Creedon's side were by far the better team in the first half, scoring two fine goals through Paul and Donie Kingston to surge into a seven point lead.

They were on top across the field, looking solid at the back and a threat every time they attacked, but unfortunately for Laois the game hinged on the 33rd minute dismissal of Kevin Meaney.

The experienced midfielder got caught up in an unnecessary flashpoint after a free was awarded to Sligo, and it appeared as though his elbow made contact with Niall Murphy's face.

After consulting with his umpires, referee Barry Tiernan issued the Arles-Kilcruise man a straight red card, and the boost it gave Sligo could be seen almost immediately.

It was an unfortunate, and throughly avoidable, incident. Meaney has the experience to know better, and no doubt he will have been kicking himself on Sunday evening as he watched his team mates struggle in his absence.

Laois were seven points up at the time, 2-5 to 0-4, but from there to the final whistle Sligo outscored them by 0-14 to 0-5. Laois tried to hold them out, dropping all fourteen players inside their own 45 yard line at times, and while that initially worked, Sligo eventually picked their way through.

Laois tried to slog it out, and for the amount of good possession they were getting, they did well to stay in the game right until injury time, but they couldn't hang on for a result.

It is a third loss in four games for them, and any lingering hopes of promotion are now well and truly gone. For now, it is all about survival, and their trip to Antrim in two weeks time is a massive game. Antrim beat Sligo in round three, and put in an impressive showing against Louth on Sunday, so they appear to be in good form. After that, Laois face Longford, a side they generally play out closely fought games with, before heading to Tullamore to play Offaly in the last round.

On paper they are arguably Laois's easiest games, but with the pressure now mounting to rack up some victories, every game becomes that bit harder.

There was mixed news on the injury front here, as Brendan Quigley finally got to make his long-awaited return, but Colm Begley was forced off after just 13 minutes with a leg injury.

The game was a slow starter to say the least, with almost ten minutes elapsed before we got an opening score. A heavy rain shower just after play started didn't help, with Patrick O'Connor getting Sligo up and running with the game's first point.

Laois hadn't threatened much in the opening stages but sprung to life after 13 minutes when Paul Kingston won a long ball in the square. His first shot was well saved by Aidan Devaney, but he tapped the rebound to the net.

Brother Donie then kicked a point seconds later and Laois were hitting their stride now. That goal would separate the teams for the next ten minutes or so, as Sligo hit points through Adrian Marren and Niall Murphy, but the Kingston brothers were in inspired form for Laois up front, and kept Peter Creedon's side on the front foot.

About ten minutes before half time, Laois took a stranglehold on proceedings with Adrian Meaney's brilliant ball into the penalty area was won by Donie Kingston. He turned and rifled a shot to the top corner of the net, and Laois now lead by six.

Everything looked rosy for Laois at that stage, but they were dealt a blow before half time when Kevin Meaney was shown a straight red card for a clash with Niall Murphy. Sligo finished the half that bit stronger, and there was five in it at the break, 2-6 to 0-7.

With the man advantage, Sligo understandably had the better of the early second half exchanges, as Stephen Coen, Adrian Marren and Keelin Cawley all combined to whittle the Laois lead down to one.

With the pressure mounting, Laois dug in and committed, at times, all of their outfield players to their own half, often inside their own 45 yard line. It wasn't pretty, but it was a case of 'needs must', and it started to pay off.

Sligo had to shoot from distance, while Laois counter attacked when they got the chance, and picked off two good scores through David Conway and John O'Loughlin.

They were only brief respite unfortunately, as Sligo kept cranking up the pressure. A run of four points on the trot saw them edge ahead by one, but Donie Kingston tapped over a free to haul Laois back to level terms.

Unfortunately, Sligo had the momentum, and they powered to the finish line, with late points from Stephen Gilmartin and Neil Ewing sealing a two-point win.

LAOIS

Scorers: Donie Kingston 1-4 (0-3 frees), Paul Kingston 1-1, David Conway 0-2, Stephen Attride, John O'Loughlin, Padraig McMahon 0-1 each.
Team: Graham Brody; Alan Farrell, Denis Booth, James Kelly; Darren Strong, Stephen Attride, Colm Begley; John O'Loughlin, Kevin Meaney; Danny Luttrell, David Conway, Danny O'Reilly; Niall Donoher, Donie Kingston, Paul Kingston. Subs: Padraig McMahon for Begley (13 mins, inj), Brendan Quigley for Luttrell (45 mins), Gareth Dillon for O'Reilly (45 mins), Ross Munnelly for Conway (52 mins)

SLIGO

Scorers: Niall Murphy 0-5, Stephen Coen 0-4 (0-3 frees), Adrian Marren 0-3 (0-1 free), Cian Brehony, Keelin Cawley, John Kelly, Stephen Gilmartin, Neil Ewing, Patrick O'Connor 0-1 each.
Team: Aidan Devaney; Noel Gaughan, Charlie Harrison, Keelin Cawley; Kevin McDonnell, Neil Ewing, Eoin McHugh; Patrick O'Connor, Adrian McIntyre; Criostóir Davey, Niall Murphy, John Kelly; Kyle Cawley, Adrian Marren, Stephen Coen. Subs: Stephen Gilmartin for Davey (half time), Brendan Egan for Harrison (54 mins), Cian Brehony for Kyle Cawley (56 mins), Pat Hughes for Coen (57 mins)