Laois maintain fine form in qualifiers
Culliton saves crucial for the visitors after two early goals for the home side at Wexford Park
Laois’ John O’Loughlin battles past the opposition cover at Wexford Park. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Laois 0-16 Wexford 2-08: Laois made it seven straight wins in the All-Ireland football qualifiers with a hard-fought two-point victory over Wexford at Wexford Park on Saturday evening.
Having reached the All-Ireland quarter-finals in 2012 via the scenic route, Laois have now won three qualifier games in a row this season, and will play the losers of Sunday’s Ulster final between Donegal and Monaghan in Round 4.
Goalkeeper Eoin Culliton was one of many Laois heroes, as he made two crucial saves in the second half to keep his side in control. The O’Moore County took full advantage and saw out the victory in the final quarter.
Early goals from Wexford pair PJ Banville and Adrian Flynn had Aidan O’Brien’s team in control in the first half, and they lead 2-2 to 0-5 with 20 minutes on the clock.
Banville’s 13th-minute goal was a well-worked score. Redmond Barry found Ciarán Lyng with a fine pass, and Lyng fed Banville, who showed composure and technique to place the ball past Culliton and into the net.
Flynn’s goal seven minutes later again saw Barry involved, the St. Anne’s man playing a free into the roving wing-back, who finished superbly to the net.
However, Laois finished the half strongly and went in just one behind at the break, trailing 2-4 to 0-9. Three points from the impressive Ross Munnelly and one from Colm Begley kept the Laois fires burning, and they remained firmly in contention for the start of the second half.
They were by a distance the better side after the restart, and they lead 0-14 to 2-6 at the end of the third quarter, with three points in a row from Begley, John O’Loughlin and Munnelly giving them that two-point advantage.
Culliton’s fine saves kept Laois on top, and although Wexford remained in the hunt with points from Barry and Lyng, Laois showed tremendous hunger and resilience to see out the win and advance.