The Laois Ladies recorded an impressive two-point win over Kildare.
Two injury time points from teenager Emma Lawlor saw the Laois Ladies claim a hard-fought win over Kildare in Annanough on Sunday.
The win will be worth more than just the two league points on offer, as manager Kevin Doogue will have been hugely enthused by the character shown by his young side.
At one stage in the second half, due to sin-binnings, they were down to just 12 players, but it was during these spells that they played some of their best football.
Knowing their backs were to the wall, they dug in and ground out some very important scores. Even when Kildare got their second goal in injury time to level the game at 2-9 each, Laois worked the ball down the field and kicked two fine points through Lawlor.
With a starting team that was without senior players like Aileen O'Loughlin, Laura Nerney and Noirin Kirwan, Laois took a while to settle. They trailed for most of the game, only taking the lead for the first time in the 53rd minute, so they really had to battle to get a result.
Kildare started brightly with points from Ellen Dowling and Aisling Holton inside of two minutes, as Erone Fitzpatrick saw the first of a whole host of Laois goal chances missed moments later.
Laois finally got their opening score in the eighth minute when Clare Conlon curled one over the bar, but Ellen Dowling quickly responded for the visitors.
Conlon again replied for Laois, this time from a free, before a lovely team move ended with Caoimhe Simms pointing from 20 yards out.
Laois were now level, but had little time to enjoy it, as Dowling edged Kildare ahead with afree, before Róisín Byrne shot low past Ciamh Dollard for the opening goal. Orlaith Kirwan pushed them five ahead, and another point apiece for each team before the break left Kildare 1-6 to 0-4 to the good.
The second half couldn't have started any better for Laois, as sub Noirin Kirwan pointed early on before Kildare lost Eadaoin Connolly to a sin-binning. Goalkeeper Aoife Molyneaux followed here soon after for a foot-block on Emma Lawlor; Laois awarded a penalty as a result.
Meaghan Dunne slotted home the spot-kick, and pointed soon after to draw Laois level. The numerical advantage then worked against Laois, as Kildare knuckled down and kicked two fine-points to re-take the lead. Emma Lawlor and Mo Nerney hit the target to get Laois back on level terms, but they got themselves into trouble then as the half progressed.
Mags McEvoy, Laura Nerney and Aisling Saunders were all yellow-carded, and it looked like the game was going to drift away from them.
Thankfully that wasn't the case, as Laois stormed into the lead in the 53rd minute. A wonderful team move ended with Erone Fitzpatrick putting Meaghan Dunne in on goal, and she rifled home a second.
Ellen Dowling and Noirin Kirwan traded points as normal time ticked away, and Kildare then pounced for a fortuitous second goal, and equaliser, with 61 minutes on the clock.
Laois were not to be denied, however, and another brilliant passing move ended with Lawlor splitting the posts, and she added another soon after to put the seal on a big win for Laois.
Scorers: Meaghan Dunne 2-1, Emma Lawlor 0-4, Clare Conlon (0-1 free), Noirin Kirwan 0-2 each, Mo Nerney, Caoimhe Simms 0-1 each.
Team: Ciamh Dollard (Portlaoise); Amy Potts (St Brigid's), Jenny McEvoy (Sarsfields), Martha Kirwan (Shanahoe); Aine Haberlin (St Conleth's), Mags McEvoy (Sarsfields), Anna Healy (Park-Ratheniska); Maggie Murphy (Timahoe), Fiona Dooley (Portlaoise); Rachel Williams (Sarsfields), Erone Fitzpatrick (Park-Ratheniska), Caoimhe Simms (St Brigid's); Clare Conlon (Sarsfields), Emma Lawlor (St Paul's), Meaghan Dunne (Sarsfields). Subs: Mo Nerney (Timahoe) for Williams (26 mins), Laura Nerney (Foxrock-Cabinteely) for Dooley (26 mins), Noirin Kirwan for Conlon (half time), Aisling Saunders (Portlaoise) for Healy (43 mins), Eva Galvin (St Conleth's) for Murphy (48 mins), Rachel Williams for Nerney (61 mins)
Scorers: Ellen Dowling 1-5 (0-3 frees), Róisín Byrne 1-1, Molly Price, Aisling Holton, Orlaith Kirwan 0-1 each.
Team: Aoife Molyneaux; Tara Hallinan, Erice Burke, Rachel Cribbin; Shauna Kendrick, Rachel Corrigan, Aisling Curley; Rachel Reidy, Aisling Holton; Orlaith Kirwan, Molly Price, Eadaoin Connolly; Ellen Dowling, Róisín Byrne, Mikaela McKenna. Subs: Aoife Wosser for McKenna (35 mins), Niamh Mulhall for Connolly (63 mins)
Referee: Des McEnery (Westmeath)