Ross Munnelly leads the way as Laois overcome Wicklow to book Dublin date
Classy forward kicks nine points as home challenge fizzles out during a one-sided second half at Aughrim
Ross Munnelly of Laois wins the ball ahead of Wicklow’s Rory Finn at Aughrim. Photo: Donall Farmer/Inpho
Laois 0-21 Wicklow 1-11
Strange how so pretty a setting can serve up something so mundane. Aughrim seems such a natural playground for football, even in the drizzling summer rain, and still they couldn’t do better than this?
Laois now must move from the seclusion of a back garden to join the headline act on the main stage. Because after swatting Wicklow aside here, they move on Croke Park, where they’ll take on All-Ireland champions Dublin, on June 8th. No wonder manager Tomás Ó Flatharta spoke afterwards of his players needing to have more in the tank.
“Yeah, that’s what I just told them,” he said. “Because I do feel there’s an awful lot of football to be played by these lads this summer.
“But what can I say about playing Dublin? They’re the All-Ireland champions, the league champions, and every team they come across they do very well with them. We’re delighted we got over the line today, and I thought the team showed a lot of character. So they’ll just have to prepare as best they can, for the next few weeks. But we’re certainly looking forward to it.”
Laois huffed and puffed a little in the first half, actually allowing Wicklow to match the pace. But once they found their stride there was no stopping them – six points without reply midway through the second half putting a more than safe distance on Wicklow.
Chief among those scorers was the enduringly wonderful Ross Munnelly, who ended up with 0-9, four from play, although Donie Kingston was never far behind. John O’Loughlin was also lording midfield and chipped in with three points of his own, with Kevin Meaney and Darren Strong knocking over one each. Pádraig McMahon, Paul Begley and Peter O’Leary in the full-back line also showed enough resilience to suggest Dublin certainly won’t have it all their own way.
“I thought the full back line were outstanding, marked very, very tight. We also opened them up a good bit in the second half, up around the forward line. There was a good bit of movement there, and the finishing was good as well.” added Ó Flatharta.
It was a disappointing afternoon for Wicklow after their surprisingly bright start.
Seanie Furlong was lively and Leighton Glynn hit a couple of typically deft points, and when Paul Cunningham got on the end of a loose ball – misfired by Furlong – and rattled it into the Laois net it certainly appeared as if this might go down to the wire.
Indeed they swapped ends on level terms, 1-5 to 0-8. (There was a significant break just after half-time when one spectator among the crowd of 3,200 fell ill). Wicklow still had their noses in front 10 minutes later, before they simply ran out steam – or rather Laois simply steamrolled over them.
“ They went on a bit of a run, kicked five or six points on the trot, and that was the end of us,” lamented Wicklow manager Harry Murphy.
LAOIS: 1 G Brody; 2 P McMahon, 3 P Begley, 4 P O’Leary; 5 D Strong (0-2, 1 45), 6 S Attride, 17 R Kehoe; 8 K Meaney (0-1), 9 J O’Loughlin (0-3); 10 J Finn, 14 C Meredith, 12 B Sheehan; 11 D Kingston (0-6, 0-4 frees), 13 R Munnelly (0-9, five frees), 15 D Conway. Subs: E Costello for Finn (ht), E O’Carroll for Conway (57 mins), P Kingston for D Kingston (70 mins)
WICKLOW: 1 R Lambert; 3 P McLoughlin, 4 A Byrne, 2 A Murphy; 7 D Healy, 6 P McWalter, 5 K Murphy; 8 J Stafford, 9 A McLoughlin; 10 F Finn (0-3), 11 M Kenny, 12 D Hayden; 13 L Glynn (0-3, two frees), 14 S Furlong (0-4, all frees), 15 P Cunningham (1-0). Subs: C McGraynor (0-1) for Kenny (43 ), P Dalton for Cunningham (63), N Gaffney for Hayden (67).
Referee: R Hickey (Clare)