Laois players celebrating with the trophy after Saturday's win over Carlow. Pic: Alf Harvey.
With the dust settling on an important Laois victory over Carlow in Croke Park on Saturday, here we take a look back at some of the big talking points to emerge from the win.
A tough one to pick from a game where most Laois players played well. Donie Kingston was excellent in the first half but faded a little in the second, and Graham Brody had a big impact on the game, but a few of his kickouts were a little off the mark. John O'Loughlin, Colm Begley and Eoin Lowry all did well too.
In the end, we have opted for Ross Munnelly. He kicked 0-3 in the first half and was a constant outlet for players further out the field. It is telling that he comes to the fore at important times. When Laois needed a bright start, he kicked two of the opening five scores and set up another.
Laois only scored four points after half time, and he scored one of them from a free and set up one of the others for Eoin Lowry. He stepped up when his team needed him at important points in the game.
As the saying goes, the old dog the the hard road.
A duo of turning points, as such, as we opt for the two saves made by Laois after they went five ahead in the 51st minute. Carlow had two great goal chances after that, one through Brendan Murphy and one for Ciaran Moran.
Mark Timmons made a brilliant block on Murphy, and Graham Brody snuffed out Moran's effort. They were crucial interventions as the lift Carlow would have gotten from either, or both, of those would have been very hard for Laois to curb.
After years of steady decline, it was refreshing to see Laois win games this year. Granted, we are in Division 4, and the success has to be viewed through that prism, but it is nonetheless heartening. Laois are improving, and you only have to look at the two games against Carlow to see that, especially in terms of tackling.
Laois didn't concede a free inside their own 45 until the 38th minute, and two of their opening five points came from good, aggressive tackling in the full-back line forcing turnovers. More of that, please.
Martin McNally from Monaghan was in charge of this game and he did well in fairness to him. He wasn't overly fussy and Laois were probably a little fortunate with one or two calls that could have gone against us, so we'll say thanks and hope we get him again some day.
This time last year we were pulling our hair out. Now, we lost three of our starting six forwards but still accounted for an incredibly defensive team for the second time in a week. There is lots of work still to do with this Laois team, but supporters will have been heartened by the progress over the last four or five months.
While winning itself was a highlight, we'll go for a different one. It's always nice to see players get some reward for an intercounty career, but it was particularly pleasing to see Mark Timmons get his hands on a winner's medal. The Graiguecullen man has been struck with his fair share of injuries over the years, but his commitment never wavered.
He ploughed the lonely furrow of the injured athlete time and again to get back playing for his county. That he played so well over the last two days since he overcame his latest injury setback speaks volumes. Being from Graiguecullen, he'll have savoured the win all the more too!
When it comes to finals, ideally you want to see both teams playing their best and then, the winner will emerge in due course. You also like to see players give a good account of themselves, but even as a Laois man, it was tough to watch Paul Broderick on Saturday. He had done more than most to get Carlow that far, and he was unerring the week before in Dr Cullen Park.
In the final, however, he seemed to get hit with a bout of what golfers would call 'the yips', and his freetaking ability abandoned him almost entirely. It wasn't nice to see, even if it did work majorly in Laois' favour, and hopefully he bounces back.
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