Colm Murphy on the attack for Laois against Offaly. Pic: Alf Harvey/HRPhoto.ie
Leinster U-21 FC semi-final
Offaly 2-9 Laois 2-8
Offaly overcame a very slow start and held off a dramatic late charge from Laois in Carlow on Wednesday evening to secure their place in the Leinster U-21 Football Final.
Leading by 2-8 to 1-4 inside the last ten minutes, Offaly looked to be cruising to victory but with the help of a penalty, Laois came firing back into contention but, thankfully for Offaly, the comeback came up just short.
The first half started slowly, with Laois' Sean Moore getting the only score of the opening stages when he pointed a fourteen yard free. The next score didn't come until the ninth minute, when Moore swung over another free, but poor shooting was the order of the day after that.
Laois were particularly guilty, as they racked up seven wides in a little over fifteen minutes. When they did finally get another score, in the 18th minute, it was a goal for Laois.
Offaly were offering little in attack at this stage, but finally sprung to life a minute later when Ciarán Farrell fired home a goal from six yards out.
They then went on a run of four points in a row, as Farrell, Paddy Dunican, Shane Tierney and Jordan Hayes (free) all hit the target to push them two ahead, 1-4 to 1-2.
Another Sean Moore free settled Laois, but Paddy Dunican kicked an incredible point from the left wing for Offaly to see them lead 1-5 to 1-3 at the interval.
Offaly had finished the first half the stronger of the two teams, and they carried that form into the second period as well. Jack Walsh pointed from a tight angle before wing-back Adam Mahon surged forward to score a brilliant goal, off the underside of the crossbar.
Jordan Hayes and Shane Tierney stretched the Offaly lead to seven, 2-8 to 1-4, before Laois mounted a late challenge. Sean Moore landed a free before Colm Murphy was fouled for penalty, and Moore calmly slotted it home.
Tom Shiel then reduced the gap to two with a brilliant point, before another Moore free left one in it as the game headed into injury time.
Shane Tierney got another point for Offaly from a free, but Laois had one last chance for a goal when they were awarded a 14 yard free. Tom Shiel tried to power it to the net, but it was saved on the line, and Colm Murphy's point from the rebound wasn't enough.
Scorers: Ciaran Farrell 1-1 (0-1 free), Adam Mahon 1-0, Shane Tierney 0-3 (0-1 free), Jordan Hayes 0-2 (0-1 free), Paddy Dunican 0-2, Jack Walsh 0-1.
Team: Barry Rohan; Clint Horan, David Dempsey, Colm Doyle; Adam Mahon, Carl Stewart, PJ Daly; James Lalor, Jordan Hayes; Ciarán Farrell, Paddy Dunican, Jack Walsh; Jack Clancy, Ruairí McNamee, Shane Tierney. Subs: Jack Egan for Stewart (15 mins), Kyle Higgins for McEvoy (46 mins), Jack Clancy for Dunican (52 mins, BC), Christian Brazil for Dempsey (57 mins, BC)
Scorers: Sean Moore 1-6 (1-0 pen, 0-6 frees), Colm Murphy 1-1, Tom Shiel 0-1
Team: Aaron Cooney (St Joseph's); James Kelly (St Joseph's), Shane Nerney (O'Dempsey's), Liam Knowles (Stradbally); Patrick O'Sullivan (Portarlington), Eoin Buggie (Stradbally), Trevor Collins (Graiguecullen); Danny O'Reilly (Graiguecullen), Danny Luttrell (Courtwood); Darragh Connolly (Ballyfin), Brian Daly (Barrowhouse), Conor Whelehan (Timahoe); Colm Murphy (Portarlington), Sean Moore (Ballyfin), Brian Byrne (Graiguecullen). Subs: Aaron Carroll (Ballyroan Abbey) for Byrne (half time), Dylan Doyle (St Joseph's) for Connolly (40 mins), Tom Shiel (Stradbally) for Kelly (48 mins, BC)
Referee: Brendan Cawley (Kildare)