The Laois Ladies finished with a flurry as they kicked 1-2 with the final three scores of the game to seal a two point win over neighbours Kildare at Netwatch Cullen Park this afternoon, bringing down the curtain on both sides Championship campaigns as Clare advanced to All-Ireland semi-final.
Laois 2 - 13
Kildare 3 - 8
TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate Football Championship, Group 4 Round 3
Donie Brennan's side came into the game knowing their chances of advancing from the group were slim, but that didn't prevent them from putting in a hugely honest and impressive performance to secure the win. As Clare, Kildare and Laois finished level on six points, Clare comfortably sealed the semi-final spot with a final points difference of 77 - their 39 point win over Sligo on Sunday inflating their final tally.
Having played with aid of the breeze in the opening half Laois carried a healthy eight point lead into the break but two Kildare goals and a handful of points shaved that lead down to the minimum heading into the final water break. Neasa Dooley's fortunate goal upon the resumption was closely followed with points from Dooley and Roisin Byrne to give Kildare at three point lead with four minutes of normal time remaining.
With Kildare reduced to 14 due to Erica Burke's sin-binning, Laois flipped the tables once more with a Sarah Anne Fitzgerald goal squaring things up before Mo Nerney's eighth of the day and Ellen Healy's first gave Laois a two point lead they successfully protected during a lengthy nine minutes of added time.
Laois wasted little time in settling into the game at the Carlow venue as they took advantage of the stiff wind in the early stages, running up a five point lead through Nerney(3), Emma Lawlor and Fitzgerald before Kildare opened their account on the quarter hour mark through Roisin Byrne.
The first goal of the day arrived 23 minutes in when Nerney collected the ball in the corner before Laois worked the across to Leah Tarpey who rifled past Mary Hulgraine in the Kildare goals. Laois almost had a second right before half-time when Emma Lawlor's rasping shot smashed off the crossbar after a scintillating run from Laura Nerney.
Kildare managed two more before the change of halves through Byrne's second and a Lara Curran free to leave the Laois lead at eight points at the half-way stage.
Laois picked up where they left off on the restart, Emma Lawlor forcing a fine save from the Kildare keeper before Nerney hit a brace, despite losing Sarah Anne Fitzgerald to the sib bin.
It took Kildare eight minutes to get a handle on the wind behind their backs, but the breakthrough came when Byrne received the ball on the edge of the square, pivoted and rolled the ball into the corner of the Laois net to kick-start their turnaround. Points followed from Ellen Dowling, Neasa Dooley, and Curran, and then Dooley broke through the Laois defence and sent a bullet to the top left-hand corner to send them into the final water break with the margin down to a single point.
Kildare struck for their third on the resumption, Dooley's long ball in taking a wicked skid on the wet surface and ending up in the back of the net. Dooley compounded their lead two minutes and Byrne followed, giving them a three point lead with five minutes of normal time remaining, but Laois had other ideas.
Sarah Anne Fitzgerald tumbled the ball over the line during a goalmouth scramble to wipe the slate clean and Laois rattled off the deciding points through Nerney and Ellen Healy to take the win.
Scorers: Roisin Byrne 2-3, Neasa Dooley 1-2, Lara Curran 0-2 (frees), Ellen Dowling 0-1 (free).
Team: Mary Hulgraine; Rachel Cribbin, Lara Gilbert, Shauna Kendrick; Sarah Munnelly, Grainne Kenneally, Lauren Murtagh; Ellen Dowling, Erica Burke; Niamh Sinnott, Lara Curran, Aoife Rattigan; Grace Clifford, Neasa Dooley, Roisin Byrne. Subs: Grace White for Sinnott (HT), Claire Sullivan for Murtagh (35 mins), Louise Scully for Munnelly (35 mins), Orlaith Sullivan for Dowling (53 mins), Caoimhe Hagan for Rattigan (61 mins).
Scorers: Mo Nerney 0-8 (0-3 frees), Sarah Anne Fitzgerald 1-1, Leah Tarpey 1-0, Emma Lawlor 0-2 (0-1 free), Rachel Williams and Ellen Healy 0-1 each.
Team: Eimear Barry (Shanahoe); Clodagh Dunne (Ballyroan), Jenny McEvoy (Sarsfields), Amy Potts (St Brigid’s); Rachel Williams (Sarsfields), Laura Nerney (Foxrock-Cabinteely), Jane Moore (St Brigid’s); Ellen Healy (Portlaoise), Anna Healy (Park-Ratheniska); Leah Tarpey (Sarsfields), Sarah Anne Fitzgerald (Portlaoise), Orla Hennessy (Timahoe); Emma Lawlor (St Paul’s), Andrea Moran (Ballyroan), Mo Nerney (Timahoe). Subs: Mags McEvoy (Sarsfields) for Hennessy (43 mins), Claire Conlon (Sarsfields) for Moran (55 mins), Sarah Larkin (Timahoe) for Lawlor (65 mins).
REFEREE: Eamonn Moran (Kerry)