Laois have the look of contenders


All-Ireland MFC Quarter-finals/Laois 0-15 Tyrone 1-8: Although they were unable to claim the Leinster championship, Laois still looked like genuine contenders for the All-Ireland title after they removed Ulster's finest in some style at Longford's Pearse Park on Saturday. Gavin Cummiskey reports.

This All-Ireland quarter-final started off fairly evenly, with a Damian McDermott free edging Tyrone into a 0-3 to 0-2 lead after 15 minutes, but Laois were already showing signs of what was to come.

Chris Bergin and Donal Brennan were both denied goals. Bergin's shot from point-blank range was pushed wide of the post by Declan Tierney, while Brennan lost his balance as he prepared to shoot for goal.

Tyrone had their own goal chance, when goalkeeper Conor Gorman failed to hold a high ball, but before Michael Murphy could pounce, Cathal Ryan cleared.

With the sparring complete, Laois proceeded to blow their opponents away. Five points in the six minutes before the interval left them 0-7 to 0-3 in front, with Michael Tierney landing a great free, while Colm Kelly chipped in with two points.

The second half exploded into action after just 10 seconds when Brennan hit the target but Tyrone hit back with a Barry Hughes point followed up by the best move of the match.

Effortlessly, they transferred the ball deep into Laois territory before Damian Meenan popped the ball up to the onrushing Murphy, who fired low to the net. The masses responded the way any crowd does when they are witnessing a cracker.

Laois hit back, hard. Brennan began tearing up the turf, posting two quick scores, while the deadly accurate Tierney added two more frees to leave six points between the sides.

Tyrone seemed beaten but they refused to go down without a fight. Four quick points from Ciarán Ward, Colm Cavanagh and McDermott (two) pulled it back to just two with injury time approaching.

With the game now at boiling point Rory Stapleton and Colm Begley broke up successive Tyrone attacks. Then, down the other end Tierney popped up to split the uprights and seal a deserved victory.

LAOIS: C Gorman; C Fleming, C Ryan, R Stapleton; C Healy, C Begley, N Danagher; B Quigley, C Rogers; M Tierney (0-5, four frees), C Kelly (0-2), I Fleming (0-1); D Brennan (0-3), C Bergin (0-1), C Kelly (0-3, two frees). Subs: P O'Leary for C Fleming (half-time), P McNulty for I Fleming (47 mins), D Murphy for Brennan (62 mins).

TYRONE: D Tierney; M Murray, K Hackett, D Kelly; D Burke, P Marlowe, J McMahon (0-1); D Meenan, M Cunningham; B Hughes (0-1), M McCreesh (0-1), R Mulgrew; C Ward (0-1), M Murphy (1-0), D McDermott (0-3, three frees). Subs: B Boggs for McMahon (half-time), C Cavanagh (0-1) for Cunningham (45 mins), R Gallen for Mulgrew (50 mins), D McCaughey for Kelly (60 mins).

Referee: M Ryan (Limerick).