Leinster minor hurling Championship q/f
By Pat Delaney
ANOTHER gallant bid to reach the last four of the provincial minor hurling championship came to a shattering end at sun splashed O’Moore Park on Saturday.
Laois had enjoyed a comfortable run in the preliminaries and while Wexford may not have had much success in their group they learned from their stronger opponents.
Laois had prepared well and showed great appetite for the game in the opening half even after they were dealt a cruel blow two minutes into the game. Adam Kirwan had posted the game’s opening point when from the puck out Wexford midfielder Jim Kirwan picked up the ball ran down field. He fed David Cantwell who caught the home defence unaware and gave the keeper no chance.
Darragh Lyons had come into this game with two clean sheets but he knew the opposition here would be hungrier. He had to be alert on several occasions to keep his line intact and for the next 30 minutes Laois matched their opponents all through the pitch but as often happens disaster strikes when least expected.
A minute into first half injury time Wexford had just gone three points clear and Laois were awaiting the half time whistle. However, Wexford half-forward Richie Lawlor from the Harriers club caught the ball 60 metres from goal. He ran goalward unchecked and blasted past the Laois net minder.
Now the scoreboard read 2-8 to 0-8 and unfortunately Laois had played their best hurling. Adam Kirwan had accounted for five of their points, all from placed balls. Thomas Keyes pointed from play in the fifth and 24th minute while full forward James Duggan also pointed from play. In between both Duggan and Keyes had good goal opportunities but neither were converted.
What change of tactic might be employed by the hosts, well they were still in contention but short and mixed clearances out of defence were causing problems and Wexford were making good use of any missed clearances.
Laois started well with an Adam Kirwan point but a great goal opportunity was spurned as Cathal O’Shaughnessy was smothered up by a physical Wexford defence. At the other end John Sheil made no mistake with a good point and a second from centre-back Cian Molloy from a 65.
Then Wexford struck a huge blow, this time David Cantwell belted home his second goal. Darragh Lyons then denied them a fourth but by now Laois were fading from sheer physical Wexford pressure.
Laois introduced Dan Delaney in attack and he would make a difference immediately but the referee thought him over enthusiastic and issued him with a yellow card.
At the other end Wexford were awarded a penalty for a foul on Cantwell and when Laois protested the referee issued two more yellow cards. When Cian Byrne stood over the ball a green flag was raised and with 13 minutes remaining the game as contest was over.
Credit Laois they refused to give up and substitute Dan Delaney struck five great points, four from placed balls and a good effort from play and, although it arrived in injury time, Cathal O’Shaughnessy was finally rewarded with a goal that took the bad look off the scoreboard.
Wexford might be a little worried. They did empty their bench, including taking two of their full-forward line off but they did not manage any score in the closing 12 minutes.
The main talking point was the physicality of the Wexford team but then they never produce anything less and they caused Laois serious problems with their direct running.
The other talking point was the Laois tactic of going short with puck outs which was being punished by the opposition but overall a gusty display from the home team. In the end the best team were worthy winners but the final margin flattered them.
LAOIS: Darragh Lyons (Ballyfin); Lawson Obular (St Lazerian’s Abbeyleix), Danny Brennan (Park/Ratheniska-Timahoe), Ian Shanahan (Ballinakill); Cian Conroy (Clonaslee), Fionan Mahony (St Lazerian’s Abbeyleix), Noah Quinlan (Borris/Kilcotton); Thomas Keyes (0-2 Camross), Kevin Mulhall (Clough/Ballacolla); Cathal O’Shaughnessy (1-0 Ballinakill), David Dooley (Rosenallis), Tadgh Cuddy (0-1 Castletown); Cian O’Shaughnessy (Ballinakill), James Duggan (0-1 Harps), Adam Kirwan (0-7 St Fintan’s Mountrath).
Subs: Dan Delaney (0-5 Camross) for Mulhall (42m), DJ Callaghan (Clonaslee/St Manman’s) for Keyes (52m), Eoin Naughton (Portlaoise) for Kirwan (53m), Brian Bredin (Mountrath) for Conroy (53m)
WEXFORD: Cian Byrne; Dylan Whelan, Kyle Scallan, Joe Conroy; Justin Moran, Cian Molloy, Emmett Cullen; Jack Kirwan, Luke Kavanagh; John Shiel, Dylan O’Neill, Richie Lawlor; AJ Redmond, Paddy Whitty, David Cantwell.
Subs: Cian Byrne (1-0) for Redmond (42m), Conor Foley for Whitty (43m), Cian Browne for Cullen (46m), David Codd for Moran (48m)
Referee: James McGrath (Westmeath)