Laois hold off fierce Armagh fightback
Laois 0-20 Armagh 1 -10:Relegated last year, Laois took the first steps towards a return to the premier grade with an impressive victory over visitors Armagh on Saturday evening.
Paul Grimley was hoping to put behind him a poor Dr McKenna cup campaign while on the other hand Justin McNulty was coming off an impressive O’Byrne Cup campaign. Armagh fielded minus the Crossmaglen representatives but a great first 10 minutes suggested they would not be missed.
Ethan Rafferty opened the scoring but Ross Munnelly equalised before three in a row by Stephen Forker (two) and Gavin McParland saw the visitors looking good. The next 20 minutes stunned Armagh as Laois went on to kick 12 excellent points including four from Ross Munnelly. Donie Kingston had a brace, Pádraig Clancy added two and four other players kicked one each. At half-time Armagh looked in disarray trailing 0-13 to 0-4.
Turned on its head
The large Armagh following could hardly believe their eyes but within minutes of the resumption the game had turned on its head.Three great points by Mark Shields, Brian Mallon and substitute Stephen Harold sparked off a possible recovery and Ethan Rafferty scored their fourth reducing the deficit to six points after only 12 minutes of the new half.
Laois were pegged back in their own half but Ross Munnelly halted the slide with another point but only temporarily and a minute later the home support was silenced when Brian Mallon crashed the ball into the roof of the net. A point from Stephen Forker left only three between the teams.
Laois recovered their first-half form and shot two great points but the door was still open for the visitors. However, Laois finished in style with two late points by Billy Sheehan and fittingly Ross Munnelly landed another great score to secure the win.