Laois 3-17 Offaly 2-16
Laois heaped further misery on Offaly at O’Moore Park on Saturday night as a first-half blitz set them up for a crucial win in Division 1B of the Allianz Hurling League.
Kevin Martin’s side are now mired in relegation trouble, while Laois face a huge game against Carlow next Sunday in their own bid to avoid finishing in the bottom two, and so ending up in a relegation playoff.
The opening stages were a cagey affair, as Laois enjoyed the wind advantage but struggled to make it count. Mark Kavanagh and Joe Bergin traded points and by the 10th minute the scores were tied at 0-3 each. Offaly went ahead for the first time with a point from Paddy Murphy, but Laois responded in ruthless fashion.
From the resulting puck out, the ball was worked to Willie Dunphy who crashed a shot to the roof of the net. Aaron Dunphy quickly added a couple of long-range points and then a slick passing move set Dunphy up for his second goal.
Laois followed it up with four points in a row, and by half-time they were 13 clear, leading 2-13 to 0-6.
Offaly needed a big comeback in the second half, and Colm Gath's goal gave them a timely boost. Offaly got within seven when Laois struck for their third goal through Stephen Maher, and they managed to hold Offaly at bay for the remainder of the game. The Faithful kept plugging away, but Bergin's fortuitous late goal from a free was a mere consolation.
LAOIS: E Rowland; J Phelan, M Whelan, D Hartnett; J Kelly, R Mullaney, J Cranny; J Lennon (0-1), S Downey; A Dunphy (0-3), E Lyons (0-1), P Purcell; M Kavanagh (0-10, eight frees, 1 s/l), W Dunphy (2-0), S Maher (1-2).
Subs: M Dowling for W Dunphy (51 mins), C Phelan for Lyons (64), E Gaughan for A Dunphy (68), L Burke for Cranny (70), P Delaney for Downey (72)
OFFALY: E Cahill (0-1, free); B Conneely, N Houlihan, T Spain; A Flynn, P Camon (0-1), E Grogan; S Kinsella, M Egan (0-2); D Egan, P Murphy (0-1), C Egan; K Connolly (0-1), J Bergin (1-7, 1-6 frees), C Gath (1-0).
Subs: K Dunne for Egan (34 mins-h/t, blood sub), S Dooley (0-3, two frees) for D Egan, S Dolan for Murphy, A Treacy for Spain (all h/t), P Rigney for Grogan (51), K Dunne for Kinsella (68).
Referee: Alan Kelly (Galway)