Electric Ireland Leinster Minor Hurling Championship Rd 2
By Ian Baker
TRAILING Kildare by five points in the 39th minute, Laois emerged with a one-point win in the second round of the Leinster MHC in St Conleth’s on Saturday courtesy of Adam Kirwan.
Kildare had an opportunity to cement a result when David Qualter registered their second goal. When Jack Higgins follow-up with a 39th minute free, Laois were beginning to sweat, trailing by 2-9 – 0-10.
But with Adam Kirwan immediately responding with a 40th minute goal and a follow-up free, Thomas Keyes’s 48th minute point levelled the game, 2-9 to 1-12.
Kildare did re-establish their lead when David Qualter, scorer of 1-4, responded with a free in the 55th minute. But, showing the experience that Kildare lacked, a Kirwan free levelled the game in the 58th before his fifth of the afternoon won it in the 60th minute.
Kildare had two opportunities late in the injury-time to draw and even win the game, but Qualter couldn’t direct his two frees over the bar.
Kildare shocked Laois with their intensity in the first-half, with Qualter’s goal breaking the stalemate in the opening quarter.
Laois’s Dan Delaney responded to leave just Qualter’s goal in the difference. Despite allowing Kildare re-establish the four-point margin, Laois outscored Kildare four points to one in the closing six minutes to leave just one-point separating the sides at half time.
James Duggan had a great opportunity to erase the margin at the beginning of the second half, but Kildare’s Sean Conway denied Laois’s opening goal.
When Kirwan added to Qualter’s second goal in the 37th minute, Laois trailed by five points.
Needing a score to stem Kildare’s momentum, Kirwan supplied the fortunate finish. Skipping along the end line, after taking his man round the outside, Kirwan cut the ball across the face of goal. Catching the full-back Conway in the chest, the ball fell on the right side of the line.
But when Kirwan and Thomas Keyes followed-up with consecutive points by the 48th minute, the game was level at 2-9 to 1-12.
At this stage, Laois surged with the momentum. Always having the keener eye for a score, it only appeared a matter of time before they gained full control of the contest.
Kildare were not to fade so easily, however. When Qualter scored his fourth point, Kildare led by the bare minimum with five minutes remaining.
But then, the cream always rises to the top. Kirwan held his nerve from two late frees, giving Laois the lead in the 60th minute, and while Qualter had two chances to claim something from the game, Laois ensured that both opportunities were difficult enough to miss.
LAOIS: Finnan Cuddy; Ned Fitzpatrick, Danny Brennan, Ian Shanahan; Cian Conroy (0-1), Fionan Mahoney, Brian Bredin; Thomas Keyes (0-2), Tadhg Cuddy; James Duggan, David Dooley, Dan Delaney (0-3fs); Adam Kirwan (1-5, 0-5fs), Cathal O’Shaughnessy (0-2), DJ O’Callaghan (0-2).
Subs: Eoin Naughton for O’Callaghan (36m); Lawson Obular for Fitzpatrick (41m); Cian O’Shaughnessy for O’Shaughnessy (42m); Kevin Mulhall for Delaney (44m)
KILDARE: Alo Hackett (0-1f); Peter O’Donoghue, Sean Conway, Matthew Eustace; Colmán O’Donovan, Cian Shanahan, Paul Dolan; Eoin Kelliher, Conan Boran; Ferran O’Sullivan, Jack Higgins (0-2), Cathal McCabe (0-2, 0-1f); Darragh Melville (0-1), Rossa Stapleton, David Qualter (2-4, 0-3fs).
Subs: Daragh McMahon for Kelliher (42m); Aidan O’Brien for O’Sullivan (56m)
Referee: Joe Deehan (Offaly)