Laois Ladies season continues to go from strength to strength, as they comprehensively saw off the challenge of an understrength Kildare side on Sunday afternoon in Ballykelly.
Having breezed past Donegal in the last round, Laois produced a fine second half display to see off the challenge of Kildare with similar authority. This makes it three wins on the bounce for Laois and they are closing in once again on a league final place, as the strength in depth in the panel was once again to the fore in this victory.
Ten different Laois players got on the scoresheet, a trend which has been evident in those three victories, and they can head to Cork this weekend with confidence brimming.
To give credit to Kildare, they were right in this game until Laois grabbed two goals in the space of 60 seconds during the second half but once those goals went in, Kildare heads dropped and they finished with their fourth defeat of the new season.
It didn’t have to end like that though and Kildare will point to an incident late in the first half that could have changed the course of the game. With a minute remaining in the half, Emer Fogarty burst through the Laois defence and hit a left footed shot that Laois goalkeeper Ciamh Dollard couldn’t keep out.
Fogarty was shouldered late as she was shooting but rather than the referee waiting a second to see where the ball ended up, he blew for a free and called play back even though the ball was in the net. A goal at that stage would have brought Kildare level heading into the half time break but to make matters worse, the free was then missed from right in front of the Laois posts.
That sort of burst of pace typified Fogarty’s game during a first half in which Kildare gave as good as they got. The St Laurence’s girl was involved in the build up for two of the points as the Lady Lilies moved into a 0-3 to 0-2 lead after 12 minutes with Maria Moolick, Michelle Carey and Siobhan Hurley getting on the scoresheet.
Laois clicked into gear and rattled off five points in a row but Kildare rallied in the final moments of the half. Carey added her second point before the Fogarty goal incident and Grace Clifford swung over a cracking effort from the right hand side.
There was just about time left in the half for Laois to win a penalty but stand in Kildare goalkeeper Mary Hulgraine made a good save to leave Kildare just two points behind at the break.
Kildare cut that lead early in the second half through a Fogarty free. Mary Kirwan responded in kind but the game was decided in a two minute spell soon after.
Michelle Carey’s 37th minute shot dropped short but bounced on top of the Laois crossbar before they cleared the danger. Laois went straight up the other end and grabbed goals through Martina Dunne and Mary Kirwan to put them firmly in the driving seat.
Aisling Holton briefly looked like she had a chance to pull a goal back in the 42nd minute but her drive was too high and went over the Laois crossbar. Fogarty’s point eight minutes later proved to be Kildare’s last and Laois ran away with the game in the final ten minutes as the fresh legs they brought in from the sideline paid dividends, Lisa Dunne scoring their third goal with the final kick of the game.
Kildare will continue their search for their first league points of the season in Meath next Sunday.
SCORERS - Laois: Mary Kirwan 1-2 (0-2 frees), Martina Dunne 1-1, Tracey Lawlor 0-3 (one free), Lisa Dunne 1-0, Sarah Quigley 0-2, Aisling Kehoe, Marian O’Grady, Maggie Murphy, Grace Weston, Martha Kirwan 0-1 each; Kildare: Emer Fogarty (one free), Michelle Carey 0-2 each, Aisling Holton, Maria Moolick, Grace Clifford, Siobhan Hurley 0-1 each
LAOIS: Ciamh Dollard; Sarah McEvoy, Jane Moore, Ellen Healy; Alison Taylor, Grainne Dunne, Marian O’Grady; Tracey Lawlor, Sarah Quigley; Mary Kirwan, Noirin Kirwan, Maggie Murphy; Aisling Kehoe, Anna Moore, Eimear Fitzpatrick. Subs: Martina Dunne for Kehoe (half time), Trish Fogarty McEvoy (half time) Martha Kirwan for Mary Kirwan, Sinead Doogue for Noirin Kirwan, Grace Weston for Fitzpatrick
KILDARE: Mary Hulgraine; Kiri Lowry, Aisling Savage, Niamh Quinn, Kate Leahy, Donna Berry, Denise Tierney; Emer Fogarty 0-2 (1f), Aisling Holton 0-1; Dearbhail Kelly, Maria Moolick 0-1, Grace Clifford 0-1, Erica Burke, Siobhan Hurley 0-1, Michelle Carey 0-2. Subs: Susan Byrne for Kelly (42 mins), Aoife Herbert for Leahy (42 mins), Joanna Timmins for Clifford (57 mins)
Referee: James Flood