The Laois minor hurlers opened their 2022 championship campaign with a rematch against neighbours Kildare, who had stunned them last season with a fine victory. Hurling is very much on the rise in Kildare now, and the Lilywhites were looking to once again down another Laois side.
Laois had been placed into a group with the Kildare, as well as Offaly. The Faithful County had enjoyed a resounding win over Kildare in their opening round clash last week, so Laois will be up against it to top this group. Declan Qualter's charges were impressive here, as they scored 4-23 en route to victory. The first half was a hard-fought affair, but a goal from Cormac Byrne gave Laois some breathing room at the break.
Two Laois goals in the first couple of minutes of the second half put the result to bed. Ben Deegan and substitute Liam Kirby were the goalscorers, as Laois romped to the win here.
Laois full-forward, Jer Quinlan, opened the scoring in O’Moore Park after Quinlan showed a nice turn of pace before firing over. Cormac Hogan quickly grabbed another point for Laois before Kildare got on the scoreboard through an excellent effort from Theo Frisby.
Tim Ryan left one between the teams for Kildare, but Ben Deegan replied for Laois through a placed ball. Theo Frisby and Ben Deegan exchanged points from frees, with Frisby grabbing another two to reduce the gap back to a single point after ten minutes of action.
Laois wing-forward, Jack Breen, responded with a point from play for his side after intercepting a pass from Kildare in their own half. Midfielder and captain, Eoghan Cuddy, then landed a booming free from inside how own half to put Laois three ahead.
Kildare once more replied with the next two scores to reduce the deficit back to the minimum. Theo Frisby converted another free, and then Oisin Loughran sliced over a beauty from out near the side-line.
A period followed where both teams missed scoreable chances, both from play and from frees. Laois eventually got back on the scoreboard in the twenty-third minute, with Ben Deegan landing a free between the posts.
Deegan knocked over two more points from placed balls before Theo Frisby replied for Kildare. However, Laois would grab the first goal of the game with two minutes to go until half-time.
A scramble for the sliotar ensued near the Kildare goal, with keeper Finn Leach coming off his line to try and clear the danger. However, Cormac Byrne managed to get a flick towards the goal while being surrounded by three Kildare players, and it nestled into the back of the net.
That was the last score of the first half, as Laois held a 1-11 to 0-7 lead over their opponents. The match was a lot closer than the scoreline indicated, with that goal late in the first half giving Laois a big push.
Laois scored two quick-fire goals after the interval to put an end to the game as a contest. The first one came from a penalty, as Kildare goalkeeper, Finn Leach, bundled Laois’ Jer Quinlan over. Deegan stepped up and rattled home the penalty into the bottom left corner.
Laois’ third goal came from a half-time substitute, The Harps man, Liam Kirby. He demonstrated his energy and freshness by showing a fresh pair of heels to the Kildare defenders and finishing well into the bottom right corner.
After battling strongly in the first half, Kildare’s heads had dropped at this point and Laois dominated the remainder of the affair. Andrew McDonagh popped up from wing-back to grab Laois’ first point of the second half.
Ben Deegan and Cormac Byrne added further points for the home side, before Laois manager, Declan Qualter, rang the changes from the bench. All the substitutes brought on had a significant impact as well, as Laois continued to run up the scoreboard.
Liam Kirby, Aaron Carroll, Kevin Byrne, and Justin Duggan, who all came off the bench for Laois, added points to extend Laois’ lead. Kildare finally got on the scoresheet for the second half thanks to a Cian O’Reilly free with around ten minutes left in the match.
Laois finished strongly, with Cormac Byrne, Justin Duggan, and Jer Quinlan all raising white flags before Quinlan scored the fourth and final goal of the game.
Scorers: Ben Deegan 1-7 (1-0 pen, 0-5 frees), Cormac Byrne 1-4, Jer Quinlan 1-3, Liam Kirby 1-1, Jack Breen 0-1, Eoghan Cuddy 0-1 free, Caelum O'Brien 0-1, Andrew McDonagh 0-1, Aaron Carroll 0-1, Kevin Byrne 0-1, Justin Duggan 0-2
Team: Brochan O'Reilly (Portlaoise); Bobby Murphy (The Harps), Ciaran Flynn (The Harps), Joe Pearson (Clough-Ballacolla); Thomas Brennan (Clough-Ballacolla), Tom Cuddy (Camross), Andrew McDonagh (Ballinakill); Eoghan Cuddy (C) (Camross), Cormac Hogan (Clough-Ballacolla); Ben Deegan (Camross), Caelum O'Brien (St Fintan's Mountrath), Jack Breen (Castletown); Kevin Hyland (Clough-Ballacolla), Jer Quinlan (Borris-Kilcotton), Cormac Byrne (Abbeyleix). Subs: Kevin Byrne (Camross) for Hyland (HT), Liam Kirby (The Harps) for O'Brien (HT), Aaron Carroll (Camross) for Breen (41 mins), Rory Kelly (Castletown), Justin Duggan (The Harps) for Hogan (49 mins)
Scorers: Theo Frisby 0-6 (0-4 frees), Tim Ryan, Cian O'Reilly (free), Oisin Loughran and Eoghan Harrington 0-1 each
Team: Finn Leech; Daniel Malone (VC), Rian Redfern, Matthew Kelly; Sean Walsh, Cormac O'Sullivan, Cian O'Reilly; Evan O'Briain, Niall Cullen; Theo Frisby, Charlie Carroll, Paul O'Dea; Tim Ryan, Dara McGlynn, Oisin Loughran. Subs: Finnan O'Dulaing for McGlynn (41 mins), Conor O'Grady for O'Briain (48 mins), TJ Nolan for Cullen (53 mins), Niall Cramer for Loughran (55 mins), Eoghan Harrington for Kelly (55 mins)
REFEREE: Kevin Brady (Louth)
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