AFTER they were somewhat controversially reduced to fourteen players, following the 21st minute red carding of centre forward Michael McEvoy, unfortunate Laois proved easy pickings for their neighbours Offaly in Sunday’s disappointingly one-sided Allianz NHL Division 1B at O’Connor Park, Tullamore.
The counties were deadlocked on three separate occasions during a reasonably competitive and interesting opening spell however, James Mulrooney’s 8th minute opportunist goal (atoning for his earlier miss when he’d a body high strike saved) after a probing Derek Morkan delivery wasn’t cleared sufficiently (with the presence of the bustling Joe Bergin unsettling Laois ‘keeper Eoin Reilly and defender Darren Maher) put daylight between the sides, 1-3 to 0-3.
That goal was still the difference, 1-6 to 0-6, up until referee James Owens dismissed McEvoy, with his attention being called to the match defining incident by his linesman on the stand side of the ground.
Offaly took full advantage of the extra man boasted a sizeable eleven points cushion, 1-15 to 0-7 at the interval, Ollie Baker’s charges were in an unassailable position and while Laois were better organised for the concluding half and more tenacious defensively, Offaly ‘won’ a drab and ‘challenge match-like’ closing 35 plus minutes by 0-12 to 0-11.
See this week’s Offaly Express (February 29) for full report, reaction and analysis