Fr Manning Cup Semi-Final
By Gavin Cooper
THE Laois U/16 footballers are through to the final of the Fr Manning Cup after a hard fought victory over Limerick in the LOETB Centre of Excellence on Saturday afternoon.
This is this side’s fourth consecutive win after victories over Westmeath, Wicklow and Wexford in previous rounds to reach the latter stage of this prestigious competition.
Simon Fingleton got the home side off the mark with a fine run from half-back finishing with a point. David O’Shaughnessy pointed a free to get Limerick on the scoreboard after Darragh Bridgeman was fouled.
Great play involving Colin Dunne and full-back Ben Dempsey allowed Dempsey to get up field and split the posts. PJ Ward followed suit and also raised a white flag for the O’Moore side. Many of Laois’s points involved good passages of play as Dunne assisted Oisin Hooney to put Laois three points ahead early on.
Limerick struggled to create any clear cut chances as placed balls were their only chance they were getting at goal. O’Shaughnessy pointed his second free of the game.
O’Shaughnessy soon scored his third free of the game before Ross Meredith got his first point of the game from play. Limerick got in for goal as a misplaced side line ended up in Bridgeman’s hands and he set up O’Shaughnessy as he took his tally and Limerick’s tally to 1-3.
Paddy Kennedy put Limerick two ahead before half-time before Meredith responded to leave one between the sides at the break.
Kenny Lynch and a free from O’Shaughnessy after the restart established a three-point lead for the away side. Ward split the posts for his third point of the game with Conor Kelly also pointing for his first score of the game.
Laois were beginning to play with more confidence and it began to show on the scoreboard as they hit another three unanswered scores. Dunne scored two points, one from a free and Kelly also raised a white flag to put Laois ahead by two.
Sam Krebs was called into action from a well-struck shot from Kennedy with Dempsey clearing the rebound down the field. Dunne pushed Laois three ahead with a free before Fingleton got his second point as he fisted the ball over the bar.
Limerick brought the difference back to the bare minimum as Eoin McGrath and substitute Garry Sheehan both pointed.
Meredith got his third point of the game as the match was nip and tuck for the last five minutes. Laois then sealed the victory after a great pass from Hooney allowed Ward to palm the ball into the net beyond the outrushing Kevin Lane in the Limerick goal.
James Killian made it a three-point game going into injury time but Laois held on for the win and secure themselves a final spot next weekend.
LAOIS: Sam Krebbs (Courtwood), Ben Dempsey (0-1 Portlaoise), Cian Lawlor (Graiguecullen), Dan Daly (The Heath); Simon Fingleton (0-2 Park/Ratheniska), Ben Reddin (Portlaoise), Padraig Rafter (Rathdowney/Errill); Brian Smith (Portlaoise), Conor Heffernan (Killeshin); PJ Ward (1-2 Portarlington), Oisin Hooney (St Joseph’s), Ross Meredith (0-3 Emo); DJ White (Portlaoise), Colin Dunne (0-4, 0-2fs Arles Killeen), Conor Kelly (0-2 Graiguecullen)
Subs: Daire Scully (Clonaslee/St Manman’s) for Lawlor (20m), Josh Hogan (Portlaoise) for Rafter (h/t), Odhran Delaney (Ballyroan Abbey) for White (35m), Adam Burns (Portarlington) for Heffernan (40m), Sam Birrane (Portlaoise) for Dempsey (45m), Lee Day (Barrowhouse) for Smith (50m), Dylan Murphy (Portarlington) for Kelly (58m)
LIMERICK: Kevin Lane, Zach McCarthy, Frank Corcoran, Sean Ryan, Eoin McGrath (0-1), Cathal O’Mahony, Cathal Hartnett, Darragh Murray, Padhraic McMahon, Paddy Kennedy (0-1), Andrew Kearns, Ciaran O’Sullivan, Darragh Bridgeman, James Killian (0-1f), David O’Shaughnessy (1-4, 0-4fs).
Subs: Kenny Lynch (0-1) for Andrew Kearns (50m), Colin Rochford for O’Shaughnessy (50m), Garry Sheehan (0-1) for Kennedy (52m) Oisin Enright for O’Sullivan (55m), Diarmuid Dennehy (0-1) for Bridgeman (57m)
Referee: Brian Deering (Carlow)