Kildare minors ease past Laois to lift consecutive Leinster titles
Brian McLoughlin delivers a captain’s performance in comfortable Croke Park win
Kildare beat Laois at Croke Park to secure a second consecutive Leinster minor title. Photograph: Inpho/Tommy Grealy
Brian McLoughlin lived up to his captain’s billing with a thrilling display to help Kildare capture back to back Leinster minor titles.
Powerful full-forward McLoughlin weighed in with three points and a lion-heart performance as the Lilies eased to a third provincial title in four seasons.
They led by five points at half-time and pushed on in the third quarter to open up a nine-point advantage while Jack Robinson added their goal late on.
Kildare’s reward is an All-Ireland quarter-final clash with Mayo though Laois will have an opportunity to redeem themselves when they meet Galway.
The bigger picture is that Kildare have emerged as the dominant force at minor level, contesting the last four Leinster finals, and manager Brendan Hackett is targeting an All-Ireland final place at least now.
“Of course there’s an ambition there to do that,” said Hackett. “Last year, we got to an All-Ireland semi-final so we have to be thinking that way. Kildare have never won an All-Ireland which is a shame but, look, for starters it would be just nice to get to the final and to be back at Croke Park again for that.”
Laois manager Mark Rooney admitted that his side suffered a bout of stage fright as they trailed the favourites from gun to tape.
Laois refused to throw in the towel and outscored Kildare by 0-4 to 0-1 midway through the half but Robinson’s superb 55th minute solo goal settled the affair.
Kildare: L Mullins; J O’Toole, M Dempsey, D Shaw; T Archbold (0-2), J Gibbons, S Doran; D Marnell, A Masterson; K Foley (0-1), J Hyland (0-7, 0-4f), D Kelly; C Kelly (0-2), B McLoughlin (0-3), J Robinson (1-1). Subs: C Costigan (0-1) for D Kelly 21, P Woodgate (0-1) for Foley 45, D O’Sullivan for Archbold 50, J Burke for McLoughlin 59.
Laois: R McGrath; J Kelly, D Bennett, R Hitchcock; S Bolger, S Byrne, J O’Connor (0-1); L Delaney, M Connolly; C Comerford (0-1), A Deering (0-1), F Crowley; A Kinsella (0-1), D Whelan (0-6, 0-4f), J Kelly. Subs: R Tyrrell for Delaney h/t, J Kavanagh for Johnny Kelly h/t, M McDermott for Comerford 35, E Lowry for Kinsella 42, D Feane for Crowley 47, C Brennan for O’Connor 49.
Referee: B Tiernan (Dublin).