The Laois Minor football team that defeated Longford in Pearse Park on Saturday last
The Laois Minor footballers booked their place in the Leinster semi-final following a hard-fought two-point win over Longford in Pearse Park on Saturday night.
Laois 2 - 14
Longford 2- 12
Leinster Minor Football Championship Round 3
Donncha Phelan’s men led by a margin of 11 points in the closing stages of the first half, but a rallying Longford comeback in the second-half just failed in the Round 3 fixture.
The home side closed the gap to two points six minutes after the restart only for Laois to steady the ship, by the final whistle Longford had the gap back to two but Laois held firm to progress to the next stage.
Boosted by a brilliant start which yielded a gift of a goal from full-forward Rioghan Murphy with just 30 seconds gone on the clock, Laois appeared to be cruising to a comfortable win when they built up a commanding 2-7 to 0-2 lead.
Murphy also scored the second goal in the 19th minute but Longford were given a glimmer of hope when Keelin McGann burst his way through the Laois defence to set up Jack Duggan who finished the ball to the net in the 28th minute.
The visitors ended up leading by 2-9 to 1-5 at the break but Longford came storming back in the early stages of the second half to close the gap to just two points thanks to scores from Ronan Sheahan and Duggan (free) along with a well struck goal from Tiernan Hussey.
Half-time substitute Hussey received the perfect pass from Keelan McGann who raced through on one of his many penetrating runs during the course of the entertaining game.
That was really putting it up to Laois but they hit back with three points in a row through Colin Dunne (2) and Brian Whelan (free) and managed to consolidate their grip on the game to emerge victorious.
Aaron Farrell replied with a point for Longford and got injured in the process and was forced to retire. Laois tacked on two more scores, a brace from Whelan (free and play), to lead by six (2-14 to 2-8) and were reduced to 14 players when Dunne was sent-off in the 60th minute after receiving a second yellow card.
While Longford finished strongly in a frantic finish to reduce the deficit to two points with three scores from Jack Duggan (two frees) and Tiernan Hussey also on target, the home side were unable to engineer a dramatic last gasp winning goal.
But it could have been a different story. Whereas the razor sharp Laois attack were making the best use of their scoring chances, Longford were guilty of shooting six wides in the first half which included three frees.
A terrific save by the Laois keeper Michael O’Connell kept out a point-blank goal attempt from Keelan McGann in the 24th minute and the same player elected to take a point when in a great position to find the back of the net just before the break.
Having said that, Laois were by far the better team in the first half and were denied another goal when centre-half-forward Brian Whelan had a shot blocked when looking all set to plant the ball in the net.
The impressive Whelan fired over four points (two frees) in the first half while the other scores came from Colin Dunne (2), Rioghan Murphy, Conor Goode and Oisin Hooney.
Jack Duggan registered 1-3 for Longford with Aaron Farrell and Keelan McGann also getting their names on the scoresheet but were facing a real uphill battle in the second half.
They proceeded to show a lot of courage and character in producing a strong second half performance to outscore Laois by 1-7 to 0-5 in almost keeping their championship hopes alive.
The introduction of substitutes Darren Moffett and Tiernan Hussey made a big difference in revitalising Longford and while both had injury problems their presence on the pitch from the start might have swung the game in favour of the home side.
As it turned out Moffett was dismissed for a black card offence in the 51st minute and this proved to be a significant setback.
In the end Donncha Phelan's men held on for the win, and they will now progress to the Leinster semi-final, with their opponents yet to be confirmed.
Scorers: Rioghan Murphy 2-1, Brian Whelan 0-7 (0-4 frees), Colin Dunne 0-4, Conor Goode and Oisin Hooney 0-1 each.
Team: Michael O’Connell (Portlaoise); Shaun Fitzpatrick (Ballyroan Abbey), Sean Greene (Emo), Nathan Little (Courtwood); Simon Fingleton (Park-Ratheniska), Eddie Critchley (Portlaoise), Mark Keogh (Spink); Ben Brennan (Portlaoise), Conor Goode (Stradbally); Oisin Hooney (St Joseph’s), Brian Whelan (Ballyroan-Abbey), PJ Ward (Portarlington); Colin Dunne (Arles-Killeen), Rioghan Murphy (Portarlington), Paddy Hosey (Emo). Subs: Darragh Carolan (Stradbally) for P Hosey (36 mins), Paul O’Flynn (Courtwood) for PJ Ward (47 mins), Ciaran Burke (Crettyard) for M Keogh (52 mins), Jamie Kelly (St Joseph's) for O Hooney (56 mins).
Scorers: Jack Duggan 1-7 (0-4 frees), Tiernan Hussey 1-1, Aaron Farrell 0-2, Keelin McGann and Ronan Sheahan 0-1 each.
Team: Conor Skelly; Sean McCormack, Sean O’Sullivan, Cathal Gilligan; Daniel Kurkin, Conor Leonard, Diarmuid Kelly; Ciaran Scanlon, Richard Prior; Aaron Farrell, Keelin McGann, Kevin Tansey; Ronan Sheahan, Jack Duggan, Seadhna Ryan. Subs: Darren Moffett for S Ryan (23 mins), Tiernan Hussey for K Tansey (HT); Jack Macken for C Scanlon (41 mins), Fionn Hourican and Dylan Coady for D Kelly and A Farrell (48 mins), Cian O’Reilly for D Moffett (black card, 51 mins).
REFEREE: Dan Stynes (Dublin)