By Denis J. Croke
LAOIS took the long road to Ardfinnan in south Tipperary on Saturday and were given a lesson by the home side.
Tipperary were in a different class to the O’Moore girls, who to their credit never gave up the battle.
With five changes from the team selected, Laois were always going to be under pressure and against the more physical, bigger Tipperary they were always playing second fiddle.
With the strong diagonal wind favouring the home side, Tipperary wasted no time in establishing their authority. As is evidenced by the scoreline they totally dominated play.
It did take them a while to get into their stride, but once they did they, ad to say, tore Laois apart. Laois’ marking in and around the middle of the filed was way too lose and once Tipperary ran at them the holes appeared and the forwards were afforded acres of space.
It was tight enough early on with Gillian O’Brien and Meaghan Dunne swapping points, as did Caoimhe Condon and Clare Conlon (free) leaving the score at two points apiece after ten minutes.
But ominously, Tipperary were beginning to find their rhythm. Aisling McCarthy landed their third point before she then struck for Tipperary’s first goal in the 14th minute.
They home side were to land three before corner forward Roisin Howard raised she side’s second green flag with 23 minutes on the clock.
The outstanding Aisling McCarthy tacked on another point before Aishling Moloney and Howard both rattled the net.
A late point from Gillian O’Brien was cancelled by an excellent point by Emma Lawlor but at the break Tipperary were leading by 4-8 to 0-3.
Playing with the aid of the wind on the restart Laois were more competitive but could make little or no headway against a sturdy Tipperary defence. The fact that the deficit was so big Laois were forced into looking for goals and they were not going to be easy to come by.
McCarthy and Howard got the opening two points for the home side but for once Laois managed to pierce the defence.
A good sweeping move ended with Laura Nerney finding the back of the net.
But by the end of the third quarter Tipperary had added another two points despite Laois putting a lot of pressure on them.
In the final quarter Clare Conlon was to convert two frees, one cancelled out by a McCarthy free. And with the game in injury time substitute Sarah Everard struck for a fifth goal.
Next Sunday Laois play host to Waterford who had a convincing win over Clare at the weekend. It doesn’t get any easier.
TIPPERARY: Lauren Fitzpatrick; Siobhan Condon, Maria Curley, Emma Buckley; Brid Condon, Samantha Lambert, Lorraine O’Shea; Aisling McCarthy (1-8, 0-2f), Jennifer Grant; Niamh Lonergan, Aishling Moloney (1-2), Caoimhe Condon (0-1); Roisin Howard (2-2), Gillian O’Brien (0-1), Orla O’Dwyer.
Subs: Anna Rose Kenney for Buckley (h/t), Shauna Quirke for Dwyer (h/t), Sarah Everard (1-0) for N. Lonergan (43m), Courtney Lonergan for Howard (43m), Roisin McGrath for C. Condon (47m)
LAOIS: Fiona Kelly; Mary Cotter, Mags McEvoy, Victoria Byrne; Aine Haberlin, Laura Nerney (1-0), Anna Healy; Jane Moore, Joyce Dunne; Emma Lawlor (0-1), Erone Fitzpatrick, Caoimhe Sims; Meaghan Dunne (0-1), Aisling Keogh, Clare Conlon (0-3f).
Subs: Caoimhe Dollard for Kelly (h/t), Ciara Langton for M. Dunne (h/t), Caoimhe Lalor for Keogh (h/t), Aimee Kelly for Haberlin (46m)
Referee: Jonathon Murphy (Carlow)