Laois surrendered their Leinster SFC crown when they went down to Dublin in Sunday’s semi-final played in Naomh Mearnog GAA Grounds in Portmarnock on Sunday. There was little between the sides for most of the game but Dublin’s ability to maximise their scoring opportunities was the crucial difference which got them over the line to another provincial decider.
Playing with wind advantage in the opening half the Laois women enjoyed the majority of possession. After Olivia Leonard and Amy McGuinness eased the hosts into an early lead Laois took control and points from Noirin Kirwan, Laura Hyland, Tracey Lawlor and Anna Moore pushed them ahead in the tenth minute.
Lawlor and Maggie Murphy were controlling midfield but Dublin stayed in touch as the teams swapped scores over the next ten minutes. Points from Mary Kirwan and Murphy left the score 0-8 to 0-5 in favour of Laois after 18 minutes when the first major turning point of the game occurred.
With Laois piling on the pressure Martha Kirwan’s shot struck the crossbar and was scrambled clear by a grateful Dublin rearguard. The ball was quickly worked up field and Sinead Ahern made no mistake at the other end to produce a six point turnaround. Another goal on the brink of half time sent the Dubs in at the break with a 2-5 to 0-9 lead that completely flattered them and no way reflected the first half balance of power.
Facing the wind in the second half, and a two point deficit, Laois found themselves playing catch up when they should have been comfortably ahead. McGoldrick and McGuinness made the situation worse when they added two points for Dublin within minutes of the restart to stretch Dublin’s lead to five points.
Laois then showed their character in the best possibly way and indicated that they had no intention of throwing in the towel. Mary Kirwan finished a great move involving Sinead Doogue and Anna Moore in the eighth minute and the O’Moore’s were right back in the match.
Laois tried everything to rein in Dublin but unfortunately that was as close as it got for Joe Higgins’ side as Dublin kept them at arm’s length from then until the end. Four converted frees by Ahern kept them clear, and Mary Kirwan notched two points for Laois but it was insufficient and Dublin progressed to another Leinster Final meeting with Meath on July 15.
Despite the defeat Laois can regroup and look forward to the qualifiers with a fair degree of confidence. They matched Dublin in most areas of the field but the team is probably still a few players short of the finished article.
SCORERS - Dublin: Sinead Ahern 1-6, Amy McGuinness 1-4, A Leonard, S McGoldrick 0-1; Laois: Mary Kirwan 1-3, Tracey Lawlor, Noirin Kirwan 0-2 each, Anna Moore, Sinead Doogue, Maggie Murphy, Laura Hyland 0-1 each
LAOIS: Ciamh Dollard; Ellen Healy, Jane Moore, Laura Hyland; Mags McEvoy, Trish Fogarty, Aisling Quigley; Tracey Lawlor, Maggie Murphy; Mary Kirwan, Noreen Kirwan, Sinead Doogue; Martha Kirwan, Anna Moore, Aisling Kehoe. Subs: Grace Weston, Eimear Fitzpatrick, Alison Taylor, Sarah McEvoy.