Laois fall to first league defeat under John Sugrue as early blitz sees Louth claim victory

Greg Mulhall

Reporter:

Greg Mulhall

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sport@leinsterexpress.ie

Laois fall to first league defeat under John Sugrue as early blitz sees Louth claim victory

Laois lost out to Louth today.

The Laois Senior footballers fell to their first League defeat under John Sugrue’s reign as a goal-hungry Louth side emerged from Croke Park with five points to spare. 

Laois 1-9

Louth 3-8

Laois’ first visit to Croke Park in 2019 didn’t exactly go to plan. In a disastrous ten-minute period in the opening half, Laois conceded three goals and had a man sent off in what was an uphill battle for the majority.

John Sugrue’s men started the game well as they took an early two point lead thanks to a Ross Munnelly brace in his first competitive start in 2019, his first coming from a mark with the second arriving shortly after from open play.

Louth didn’t take long to reply, opening their account a minute later and indeed the floodgates as Ryan Burns clipped over their first point of the day before Louth stormed the Laois defence for two goals in as many minutes.

Louth first unravelled the Laois defence with just eight minutes played, a smoothly worked passing move from Sam Mulroy and John Clutterbuck found Conor Early who literally lifted the Laois net with a thundering strike from close range. A minute later, the same green flag was in the air again as Burns palmed to the Laois net.

Laois steadied the ship with with Munnelly adding his third point of the afternoon after Marty Scully was fouled on the twenty-one. 

Louth’s third goal in a disastrous seven minute period arrived on the quarter of an hour mark, Ryan Burn’s crashing home his second of the day from the penalty spot following a foot-block in the square. And then to make matters worst, Laois were reduced to fourteen men as Kieran Lillis received his marching order four minutes later for an off-the-ball incident.

Conor Brannigan and Sam Mulroy traded points with another Munnelly brace heading into the final minutes of the half. On the thirty minute mark, Louth were reduced to fourteen men - albeit temporarily - as Conor Early received a black card for a questionable tackle on Paul Kingston. Colm Murphy tapped over the resulting free to cut the deficit to six points with five minutes left before the break.

After confirmation from Hawk Eye, Louth pushed their lead out to seven through Tommy Durnin’s effort, but Laois rallied in the final stages of the half and almost capitalised on a rare Louth defensive error, only for Colm Murphy to be hauled down in the square. Munnelly dispatched the resulting penalty to the bottom right corner to bring his tally to 1-5 for the half, as Laois trailed by four at the interval on a scoreline of 3-4 to 1-6.

Laois introduced Donie Kingston and Evan O’Carroll from the bench for the second half. Louth almost had a fourth goal on the resumption, Conal McKeever forcing a save from Graham Brody before Burns recycled over. Donie Kingston hit-back with a point from play to keep the gap at four points.

Munnelly steered over his fifth free of the day, before Louth were again reduced to fourteen men as Andy McDonnell received their second black card of the game. 

Mulroy and McKeever combined to see the latter push the Louth lead out five points with ten minutes left on the clock. Laois continued to chase the game and weren’t without their chances - Donie Kingston almost teed up Murphy, and a well-worked passing move involving Brody, Murphy and debutant Mark Barry gave Paul Kingston a goal-chance that was ultimately blocked.

Donie Kingston sent over a free to end Laois’ twenty minute drought three minutes from time, but a late Mulroy free ensured Louth left GAA HQ with a victory under their belt.

SCORERS - Laois: Ross Munnelly 1-6 (1-0 Pen, 0-4f, 0-1 Mark), Donie Kingston 0-2 (0-1f), Colm Murphy 0-1f. LOUTH: Ryan Burns 2-3 (1-0 Pen, 0-2f), Conor Early 1-0, Sam Mulroy 0-2 (0-1f, 0-1 Mark), Tommy Durnin and Conal McKeever 0-1 each.

LAOIS: Graham Brody; David Seale, Mark Timmons, Adam Campion, Stephen Attride, Robbie Piggott, Gareth Dillon; John O’Loughlin, Kieran Lillis, Damien O’Connor, Conor Boyle, Sean Byrne; Ross Munnelly, Colm Murphy, Paul Kingston. SUBS: Martin Scully for Byrne (1 min, inj), Colm Begley for Scully (22 mins), Donie Kingston for Seale (HT), Evan O’Carroll for O’Connor (HT), Mark Barry for Munnelly (56 mins), Paul Cahillane for Murphy (65 mins).

LOUTH: Fergal Sheeky; Fergal Donohue, Emmet Carolan, Des Corcoran; Anthony Williams, Bevan Duffy, John Clutterbuck; Tommy Durnin, Conor Early; Conor Brannigan, Ciaran Downey, Conal McKeever; Andy McDonnell, Sam Mulroy, Ryan Burns. SUBS: James Califf for Early (BC, HT), Declan Byrne for Burns (51 mins, inj), Hugh Osbourne for Corcoran (57 mins), Eoghan Duffy for McDonnell (BC, 60 mins), Ruairi Moore for McKeever (65 mins).

REFEREE: Barry Tiernan (Dublin)