Laois get their hands on Division Four title
Slow start costs Carlow as Laois win by four points at Croke Park to become champions
Carlow’s Sean Gannon tackles Gareth Dillon in the Division Four final. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho
Laois 0-15 Carlow 0-11
Carlow made it uncomfortable but in the end Laois recorded the expected victory in the Division 4 decider at Croke Park.
Turlough O’Brien and his crew will bemoan a very slow start into a strong wind, trailing by five points before they finally got on the scoresheet via the boot of Darragh Foley in the 17th minute.
From that stage on Carlow were the equal of Laois in most sectors and, indeed, had the lion’s share of the possession for significant periods.
The crucial difference was Laois’s economy, the finishing of Donie Kingston and Ross Munnelly contributing nine points, including six from play.
Munnelly was magnificent early on, and his composure played a big role in securing a first piece of silverware for the county since he starred as a teenager in the 2013 Leinster championship-winning campaign.
In contrast, Carlow’s talisman, Paul Broderick had an off-day, unable to find his range from placed balls, although he did finish with two late points.
He was short with two early efforts into the wind before Munnelly got Laois off the mark from a free. After that, it was John O’Loughlin, Munnelly with a delightful finish, Kingston and Kieran Lillis raising white flags.
At that juncture, the fear for Carlow supporters must have been that Laois would blow them away, such was the ease with which they were able to find space in spite of the numbers their team had back.
In that context, finding a toehold and getting to half time trailing by 0-10 to 0-5 wasn’t a bad effort. It would have been much better but for some injudicious shooting but Brendan Murphy and Sean Gannon did kick some inspirational scores, while Kingston and a score that was vintage Munnelly maintained the Laois advantage.
It stretched to six early after the resumption thanks to an Eoin Lowry free but Carlow kept chipping away and with Gannon on fire had the gap down to three by the 46th minute.
They could not get any closer though and Laois quickly snuffed out the threat thanks to scores from Lowry and a Munnelly free. Graham Brody and Mark Timmons denied Ciaran Moran and Brendan Murphy goals on a day that ultimately belonged to Laois.
Laois: G Brody, S Attride, M Timmons, G Dillon, T Collins, C Begley, R Pigott, J O’Loughlin (0-1), K Lillis (0-1), A Farrell (0-1), B Carroll, B Glynn, R Munnelly (0-4, 2f), D Kingston (0-5, 2f), E Lowry (0-3, 1f). Subs: D O’Reilly for Carroll (51 mins), D Strong for Glynn (60), D Conway for Munnelly (62), N Donoher for Pigott (66), J Farrell for Kingston (70+2), F Crowley for Collins (70+2)
Carlow: R Molloy, C Crowley, S Redmond (0-1), M Rennick, J Morrissey, D St Ledger, C Moran, B Murphy (0-1), S Murphy (0-1), S Gannon (0-3), D Foley (0-3, 1f), E Ruth, P Broderick (0-2, 1f), D O’Brien, J Murphy. Subs: C Lawler for Rennick (56 mins), D Walshe for O’Brien (62), B Kavanagh for Moran (66), K Nolan for Morrissey (66, L Walker for J Murphy (70)
Referee: M McNally (Monaghan)