Leinster SFC: Laois edge extra-time thriller
Leinster Senior Football Championship
LAOIS 2-21 WEXFORD 1-18
By Ronan Fagan at Innovate Wexford Park
Donie Kingston was at the heart of a huge Laois revival when they overcame a half-time deficit of 1-10 to 0-3 to overcome Wexford after extra-time in Saturday's Leinster SFC round-one clash at Innovate Wexford Park.
Defiant Wexford denied the midlanders several goals as Laois mounted a massive second-half revival which ultimately saw a late Kingston penalty help salvage extra-time, during which Laois ruled the roost to set up a May 26th quarter-final against Westmeath.
Wexford, meanwhile, face into the All-Ireland Qualifiers on June 9th.
Wexford looked resplendent as they sported the replica jersey from 100 years ago on a night when they celebrated their predecessors achieving the historic feat of becoming the first-ever four-in-a-row All-Ireland football winners.
And the purple-and-gold invoked the spirit of their 1915-1918 heroes as captain Daithí Waters, John Tubritt, championship first-timer Glen Malone and Donal Shanley (free) made it 0-4 to 0-0 after nine minutes
Laois almost struck back with a goal in the 11th minute only for Wexford 'keeper Conor Swaine to come the rescue with a smart save from David Conway.
Wexford extended the gap to 0-8 to 0-0 after 22 minutes with Shanley adding three more scores (two frees) and John Tubritt his second.
Laois finally pointed through Gary Walsh on 23 minutes before Ross Munnelly pegged it back to 0-8 to 0-2.
Wexford extended the margin to 1-8 to 0-2 on 26 minutes when centre-back Naomhan Rossiter finished to an empty net.
Laois went agonisingly close with goal attempts during the closing stages before reaching half-time 1-10 to 0-3 adrift as Wexford championship debutantes James Stafford and Shane Doyle extended the gap.
Laois withdrew Gary Walsh at half-time as Benny Carroll came in with no.11 Donie Kingston switching inside, and he became the focal-point for the resurrection.
Laois were building momentum as they shaved the margin to 1-13 to 0-14 after 60 minutes with Ross Munnelly and Kingston to the fore.
Wexford were grateful for further interventions by goalie Swaine as Laois sought goals before eventually breaching the net on 69 minutes when Kingston planted a penalty to level on 1-14 apiece and set up a truly grandstand finish. Donal Shanley pointed an injury-time penalty to put Wexford on the brink of victory, before Laois corner-back Gareth Dillon intervened to force extra-time on 1-15 apiece.
Midfielder Kieran Lillis struck three minutes into extra-time for the goal which truly handed the increasingly dominant midlanders the initiative, and they led 2-18 to 1-16 at the break en route to deservedly extending their provincial ambitions.
*Scorers for Laois: *Donie Kingston 1-6 (1-0 pen, 3fs), Ross Munnelly 0-5 (2fs), Paul Kingston 0-3, Stephen Atttride 0-2, Gareth Dillon, Trevor Collins, David Conway, Gary Walsh, Darren Strong 0-1 each.
*Scorers for Wexford: *Donal Shanley 0-9 (6fs, 1 penalty, 1 '45), John Tubritt 0-4, Naomhan Rossiter 1-0, Glen Malone, Shane Doyle, James Stafford, Ben Brosnan 0-1 each.
LAOIS: Graham Brody, Ruairdhri C Fennell, Mark Timmons, Gareth Dillon, Trevor Collins, Colm Begley, Stephen Attride, John O'Loughlin, Kieran Lillis, Alan Farrell, Donal Kingston, Damien O'Connor, Ross Munnelly, David Conway, Gary Walsh.
Subs: Benny Carroll for Walsh (half-time), Niall Donoher for Farrell (47), Paul Kingston for Fennell (50), Darren Strong for Conway (61), Tom Sheil for Munnelly (67). Extra-time: Finbarr Crowley for O'Connor (75); Denis Booth for Dillon (83), David Holland for Collins (87).
WEXFORD: Conor Swaine, Michael Furlong, Jim Rossiter, Conor Carty, Glen Malone, Naomhan Rossiter, Shane Doyle, Brian Malone, Daithí Waters, James Stafford, Ben Brosnan, Eoghan Nolan, Paul Curtis, Donal Shanley, John Tubritt.
Subs: Tiarnan Rossiter for Curtis (11), Alan Nolan for J Rossiter (35), Eoin Porter for Brosnan (50), Nick Doyle for Stafford (61), Barry O'Gorman for Doyle (69) Extra-time: David Shannon for T Rossiter (78); James Stafford for O'Gorman (78); Darragh Pepper for A Nolan (half-time extra-time).
REFEREE: Martin McNally (Monaghan).