Reigning champions Sarsfields produced a terrific second half display to overwhelm St Josephs in the first Laois Ladies Football Minor Championship semi-final played in Annanough on Sunday.
Sarsfields generally controlled the opening period and built up a 2-4 to 1-2 lead after 22 minutes and appeared to be cruising; Josephs looked dead and buried.
Suddenly they found a new lease of life and, largely orchestrated by the excellent Caoimhe Simms, staged a wonderful fight back which yielded five points unanswered points to finish on level terms at the break, 2-4 to 1-7.
The challengers took the lead for a brief period early in the second half but when Sarsfields upped the tempo with points from Laura Marie Maher and Meaghan Dunne and a Niamh Williams goal Josephs failed to respond. Dunne, Lorna O’Sullivan and Katie Murphy added the finishing touches as Sarsfields ran out comfortable winners, 5-10 to 1-9.
So after losing to Park-Ratheniska-The Heath two weeks ago Sarsfields now will defend their 2012 crown against the same opposition on Sunday next.
The second Minor Championship semi-final brought the two U-16 Finalists of 2011 face to face. The end result was the same as two years ago as the Park-Ratheniska/The Heath combination again proved too much for a battling St Conleths outfit to deny the North Laois side a clean sweep of underage titles.
This was a game from the top drawer fought out between two skillful and very evenly matched teams which was ultimately decided by the greater ability of the Ratheniska forwards to convert opportunities into scores. Kellie Preston, Aine Fitzpatrick Rachel O’Connell, and Shauna Redmond were very much to the fore in the Ratheniska resurgence and eventual victory. For St Conleths Nicole Byrne, Aine Haberlin and Shannon Costello played best.
Ratheniska started well and knocked over a few early points but fell behind to two well executed goals by St Conleths after ten minutes before clawing their way into a half time lead of 2-9 to 2-4.
The second half was a dour struggle but in the end Ratheniska had the necessary fire power to see them through for another showdown with Sarsfields.