Laois get their campaign off to a bright start

Stephen Maher inspirational as Offaly are surprised by their midland neighbours

 Joe Bergin: scored eight points for Offaly against Laois in Tullamore. Photo: Brian Lawless/Sportsfile

Joe Bergin: scored eight points for Offaly against Laois in Tullamore. Photo: Brian Lawless/Sportsfile

Sun, Feb 16, 2014, 19:22

Offaly 2-14 Laois 1-19

Laois got their Division 1 B campaign off to a dream start when they recorded a shock win over Offaly in Tullamore yesterday.

Just two points separated the sides at the end of 70 minutes of hurling but there was absolutely no disputing the merit of Laois’s win and they really should have won with a lot more to spare.

For most of the game, Laois were the better side. They were on top in most sectors and exerted a real control on the game. Offaly almost salvaged it with a late rally but even at that, their efforts lacked real conviction.

Laois have obviously done a lot of work under their manager, Séamus Plunkett. They were fit and hungry while their hurling was a lot sharper than Offaly’s.

Laois stormed into a three -point lead after five minutes and even at this early stage, the alarm bells were ringing for Offaly boss Brian Whelahan.

Offaly did get the gap back to a point but Laois continued to drive forward and a 21st minute goal from a free from the outstanding Stephen Maher gave them a 1-5 to 0-3 lead.

Placed balls
The home side relied heavily on Joe Bergin frees to keep them in it and he got six of their first-half points from placed balls with Brian Carroll scoring their only point from play.

In contrast, Laois were able to pick up decent scores from play and they deservedly led by 1-9 to 0-7 at half time.

They continued to impress as the better side in the second half. A Stephen Maher penalty was saved on the line but the visitors were still more clinical up front, thanks mainly at this stage to Maher frees.

Offaly just about hung on to their slipstream but with eight minutes left, Laois led by 1-17 to 0-13 and looked set to ease home. Instead, Offaly finally rallied the troops and they got the lift they needed with a somewhat lucky goal from sub, Dan Currams to trail by 1-17 to 1-14 with three minutes left.

Laois hit back with a Maher free but Offaly cut the deficit to the minimum with a close -range goal from wing back, Dermot Mooney. Tommy Fitzgerald tapped over the clinching point for Laois.
LAOIS: E Reilly; JA Delaney, B Campion, B Stapleton; J Fitzpatrick, M Whelan (8), C Dunne; P Whelan, C Collier (0-1); J Purcell (0-1), D Palmer, S Maher (1-9, 1-7frees); N Foyle (0-2), C Dwyer (0-3), T Fitzgerald (0-2). Subs: W Hyland (0-1) for Whelan (43mins), R King for Purcell (46mins), J Campion for Dunne (57 mins), PJ Scully for Foyle (68 mins).
OFFALY: J Dempsey; N Wynne, D Kelliher, J Rigney; C Doughan (0-1, f), B Watkins, D Mooney (1-0); K Brady, C Parlon; P Geraghty, J Bergin (0-8, 7f), C Egan; K Connolly, S Garnder, B Carroll (0-4, 2f). Subs: D Currams (1-0) for Connolly (28 mins), S Quirke (0-1) for Egan (h-t), D Kilmartin for Parlon (44mins), S Cleary for Geraghty (58mins).
Referee : B Kelly (Westmeath).