Erone Fitzpatrick heads for goal against Kildare. Pic: Denis Byrne
The Laois Ladies survived a spirited comeback from Kildare to secure a five point win over the Lilywhites in O'Connor Park on Sunday.
Laois set up in a rather daring manner, placing five players across the half forward line and leaving Ciara Burke isolated at full-forward. It was a tactic that almost paid an instant dividend, as Laois win possession from the throw in, and with wind advantage, launched the ball towards Burke.
She duly won possession, beat Rose Mernagh and got a shot away, only to see it hit the post and bounce away. Roisín Byrne then put Kildare in front, before Emma Lawlor drew Laois back on level terms with a free.
Lawlor then became the second Laois player to see a shot hit the woodwork, when her left-footed effort crashed off the post. That was to be a trend for Laois in the first half, as they went looking for goals on a number of occasions only to see luck desert them.
Laois took the lead in the seventh minute, when Erone Fitzpatrick raced through to point from 25 yards out, and Rachel Williams added another soon after. Another Lawlor free, pushed Laois three clear, but that lead was almost wiped out with Ellen Dowling's shot looked destined for the top-corner, only for Ciamh Dollard to make a brilliant save and turn it over the bar.
Laois reacted well to that scare, hitting the next two points through Lawlor and Ciara Burke, before Ciamh Dollard had to be sharp once more, denying Grace Clifford this time.
Aileen O'Loughlin and Ellen Dowling traded frees to round off the half, with Laois leading 0-7 to 0-3, despite having had a strong wind at their backs.
If the Laois support were worried that the lead was too narrow, then their fears were quickly allayed. Three minutes into the second half a searing run from the left wing saw Erone Fitzpatrick through on goal, and even though Mary Hulgraine got a hand to her shot, it went over the line.
Emma Lawlor added a free moments later, and Laois were starting to look comfortable. Three more points from Lawlor drew one reply from Kildare, through Ellen Dowling, as Laois now lead by ten.
They should have cruised home from there, but there was high drama in the closing minutes. First Kildare struck for a goal, Erica Burke beating Ciamh Dollard with a low strike.
Kildare's joy was quickly cut short, as Emma Lawlor pointed moments later before a brilliant Erone Fitzpatrick goal had Laois in the comfort zone once again.
The final twist came with normal time almost up, as Kildare won a penalty which was expertly dispatched by corner-back Trina Duggan. Thankfully, from Laois' point of view, that was the last score of the game, as Laois wrapped up a five point win.
Scorers: Emma Lawlor 0-8 (0-3 frees), Erone Fitzpatrick 2-1, Rachel Williams 0-2, Aileen O'Loughlin (free), Ciara Burke 0-1 each.
Team: Caoimh Dollard; Alison McEvoy, Jenny McEvoy, Martha Kirwan; Amy Potts, Laura Marie Maher, Maggie Murphy; Joyce Dunne, Aileen O'Loughlin; Erone Fitzpatrick, Laura Nerney, Rachel Williams; Emma Lawlor, Ciara Burke, Caoimhe Simms. Subs: Eva Galvin for Murphy (42 mins), Ash Saunders for J McEvoy, Anna Healy for Potts, Meghan Dunne for O'Loughlin
Scorers: Ellen Dowling 0-5 (0-4 frees), Trina Duggan (pen), Erica Burke 1-0 each, Eadaoin Connolly, Molly Price (free), Roisin Byrne 0-1 each.
Team: Mary Hulgraine; Rachel Corrigan, Rose Mernagh, Trina Duggan; Michelle Curley, Aisling Curley, Shauna Kendrick; Lara Curran, Erica Burke; Niamh Sinnott, Roisín Byrne, Grace Clifford; Mikaela McKenna, Ellen Dowling, Orlaith Kirwan. Subs: Eadaoin Connolly for McKenna, Molly Price for Sinnott, Louise Scully for Clifford, Rachel Reidy for Curran, Nessa Dooley for Kirwan.
Referee: John Gallagher (Dublin)