SEVENTEEN year old corner forward Evan O’Carroll was the star of the show for Laois as they advanced to the quarter-finals of the Leinster U-21 FC with a one point win over Offaly in O’Moore Park
Cadbury’s Leinster U-21 FC
The minor star scored two opportunist goals and had a hand in the third as Laois recorded their first win in the grade in three years against a highly fancied Offaly side.
Laois were dealt a blow before the game when Damien O’Connor, the one senior player on the panel, was ruled out due to injury.
They had a lucky escape in the opening minutes when Offaly’s David Hanlon contrived to miss an open goal but they took advantage and a fisted goal from O’Carroll left them 1-1 to 0-2 up early in the game.
Offaly got back on level terms but again Laois took back the momentum with a second goal when O’Carroll rose highest to fist home a goal latching on to a speculative high ball.
With their confidence visibly growing, Laois matched Offaly point for point to the break and they went in at half-time leading 2-6 to 0-7.
They extended their lead early in the second-half to 2-9 to 0-9 and they looked to be on course for a comfortable win.
However Offaly, spearheaded by Peter Cunningham, came back strongly and after a penalty from David Hanlon, Laois only held a one point lead and their backs were against the wall.
But just when they needed it, Laois added a third goal with O’Carroll again in the midst of the action. He forced an error from goalkeeper Mark Langtry and Kevin McGrath was on hand to slot home the rebound.
Offaly had chances to eat into the lead but a string of wides, three from frees, halted their progress.
Entering injury-time Laois lead by four when Offaly’s Ciaran Hurley rattled the back of the net to reduce the gap to the minimum.
However that goal came too late to change the outcome and Laois held on for a morale boosting win. They now face Wicklow at home in the quarter-final.
See next week’s Leinster Express for full report, reaction and photographic coverage
Offaly: Peter Cunningham 0-6 (0-2 frees), Ciaran Hurley 1-1 (0-1 free), Paul McPadden 0-3 (frees), David Hanlon 1-0 (penalty), Stuart Cullen 0-1, Aaron McDonagh 0-1, Barry Cushen 0-1.
Laois: Evan O’Carroll 2-0, Kevin McGrath 1-1, Evan Costello 0-4 (frees), Dan Dunne 0-2 (0-1 ’45, 0-1 free), Adam Ryan 0-2, Padraig McEvoy 0-1, Paul Kingston 0-1.
Offaly: Mark Langtry; Eoin Rigney, Declan Hogan, James McPadden; David Hanlon (capt.), Derek Kelly, Philip Foy; Conor McNamee, Eoin Carroll; Stuart Cullen, Peter Cunningham, Aaron McDonagh; Paul McPadden, Ciaran Hurley, Stephen Hannon.
Subs: Joey O’Connor for D Hogan (20 mins), Luke Kelly for C McNamee (25 mins), Barry Cushen for S Hannon (half time), Joe Maher for S Cullen (39 mins), Sean Doyle for P McPadden (50 mins). . Laois: Graham Brody; Mark Dowling, Mark O’Halloran, Stephen Attride; Ciaran Lennon, Padraig McEvoy, Dan Dunne; Adam Ryan, Matthew Campion; Alan Farrell, Liam McGovern, Kevin McGrath; Evan O’Carroll, Evan Costello, Paul Kingston.
Subs: Adam Campion for M Dowling (15 mins), Jamie Farrell for A Farrell (50 mins), James Brennan for C Lennon (50 mins), Jason Campion for E O’Carroll (60 mins), Shane Murphy for K McGrath (61 mins). . Referee: Brendan Cawley (Kildare).