John O'Loughlin lined out at midfield for Laois.
Two second half goals from Evan O'Carroll and Paul Cahillane helped Laois to a crucial NFL Division 3 win over Offaly in O'Connor Park today.
John Sugrue's side recorded back-to-back victories for the first time in the league, as they backed up their win over Longford last time out with a hard-fought result in Tullamore.
Laois had to face into the elements in the first half but they settled quickly, as Evan O'Carroll gave them the lead in the third minute after being set up by Eoin Lowry. Kieran Lillis doubled the lead soon after, with patient Laois build-up play rewarded when Lillis launched one over off his left foot.
Offaly weren't making the most having the wind at their backs, but they finally opened their account in the ninth minute when Anton Sullivan pointed from 30 yards out. Laois responded with interest, as Donie Kingston defied the wind to curl over a wonderful point, and then Ross Munnelly fisted over from close range to put them into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead.
Offaly had offered little so far, but they slowly but surely worked their way into the game, starting with a point from Cathal Mangan. Bernard Allen then curled over a wonderful free from close to the right sideline to narrow the gap to one, before an unmarked Peter Cunningham leveled the scores with a simple score from 25 yards.
With momentum behind them, Offaly pushed ahead for the first time thanks to another free from Allen, but Eoin Lowry replied for Laois to keep the sides level, 0-5 each after 24 minutes.
Offaly were being a bit more direct now though, and they were getting their reward for it as they went back in front thanks a point from a long-range free by goalkeeper Paddy Dunican. Bernard Allen then added his third, and first from play, before a Niall Darby score saw the Faithful men lead 0-8 to 0-5 at half time.
If Laois thought the wind would lead to an automatic improvement in the second half, they were sorely mistaken, as Offaly managed to extend their lead. Ross Munnelly got the first score of the half but Ruairí McNamee hit back with two points to stretch the lead to four.
Laois needed to kick themselves into gear and they finally did when Evan O'Carroll started to get on the ball. He first won an attacking mark and pointed from 14 yards out, before then winning a free and popping that over. Kieran Lillis then rounded off an incisive passing move to narrow the gap to one, before Laois surged ahead.
It came from simple, Route 1 football, as Donie Kingston played a perfectly weighted ball over the top for Evan O'Carroll. He plucked it from the sky, brushed off Eoin Rigney and then calmly slotted to the net for a superb goal.
Ruairi McNamee hit back for Offaly with another good point, but Laois were enjoying their best spell since the opening minutes, and soon pounced for another goal. Conor Boyle cut in from the right wing and passed to Paul Cahillane in the penalty area, seconds after he had been introduced, and he spun away from his marker before drilling the ball to the net.
Colm Begley added a point from the left wing moments later and it all looked rosy for Laois, but instead of kicked for home, they pulled up and Offaly started to come back into it.
Bernard Allen was at the heart of it, as he kicked three of the next four points, with Niall McNamee adding another, to see the Laois lead whittled down to just two points with five minutes to go.
Paul Cahillane settled any late nerves by winning an attacking mark and pointing it, and that proved to be the final score as Laois ran out three point winners.
Scorers: Evan O'Carroll 1-3 (0-1 free, 0-1 mark), Paul Cahillane 1-1 (0-1 mark), Ross Munnelly, Kieran Lillis 0-2 each, Colm Begley, Benny Carroll, Donie Kingston, Eoin Lowry 0-1 each.
Team: Graham Brody; Stephen Attride, Mark Timmons, Gareth Dillon; Martin Scully, Colm Begley, Trevor Collins; John O'Loughlin, Kieran Lillis; Benny Carroll, Donie Kingston, Eoin Lowry; Ross Munnelly, Evan O'Carroll, Colm Murphy. Subs: Conor Boyle for Murphy (44 mins), Robbie Pigott for Scully (55 mins), Paul Cahillane for Munnelly (55 mins), Kevin Meaney for O'Loughlin (64 mins, inj), Paul Kingston for Lowry (67 mins)
Scorers: Bernard Allen 0-6 (0-2 frees), Ruairi McNamee 0-3, Paddy Dunican (free), Cathal Mangan, Niall Darby, Peter Cunningham, Anton Sullivan, Niall McNamee 0-1 each.
Team: Paddy Dunican; Declan Hogan, Eoin Rigney, David Dempsey; Cian Donohue, Johnny Moloney, Paul McConway; Eoin Carroll, Peter Cunningham; Shane Horan, Cathal Mangan, Niall Darby; Bernard Allen, Anton Sullivan, Ruairí McNamee. Subs: Niall McNamee for Carroll (56 mins), Dan Molloy for Donohue (61 mins), Shane Tierney for R McNamee (67 mins), Conor Carroll for Cunningham (71 mins)
Referee: Paul Faloon (Down)