Leinster SHC: Laois earn another win
Leinster Senior Hurling Championship Round Robin
LAOIS 2-21 KERRY 3-15
By Paul Brennan at Austin Stack Park, Tralee
Laois qualified for a Leinster SHC quarter-final with Wexford on the back of this three-point win over Kerry in Tralee.
An improving Laois outfit were made to work hard by the Kingdom who came into this game with a fighting chance of reaching the next stage themselves.
Instead, Laois join Westmeath - who will play Offaly – in the quarter-finals, while Kerry retain their Leinster SHC status by virtue of scoring difference with Meath are relegated to next season's Christy Ring Cup.
Laois were, just about, the better team on show in Tralee, but Kerry kept them honest until the final puck as the home side chased what would have been their first Leinster quarter-final.
Ross King's expertise from placed balls, and the sending off of Kerry defender Sean Weir in the 46th minute, proved the difference.
Laois had got the perfect start to the first half with Neil Foyle scoring a second minute goal after Martin Stackpoole had initially saved well from Patrick Purcell, but Kerry were soon back on level terms with points from Jordan Conway, Mikey Boyle and two Shane Nolan frees to make it 1-1 to 0-4 after five minutes.
The next 30 minutes wasn’t exciting, with Nolan and Laois midfielder King sharing the next six points from frees, before Patrick Purcell and Nolan swapped points from play to make it 0-8 to 1-5 by the 25th minute.
Another score didn't arrive until first half added time when Aaron Dunphy scored a long range Laois point, but Kerry immediately hit back with two Shane Nolan goals within a minute to send Kerry to the interval with a 2-8 to 1-7 lead.
The home side really should have built on that momentum after the break, but instead it was Laois who upped the ante, and when Purcell found the net in the 41st minute the visitors led 2-10 to 2-8.
Laois kicked on with King converting three more frees as they extended their lead to 2-15 to 2-9, with Kerry disadvantaged by Weir's dismissal for a second yellow.
Mikey Boyle stole a Kerry goal from a 25-metre free to cut the gap to three points, but they couldn't get any closer as the numerical advantage told for Laois and they saw the game out with late scores from King and substitute Stephen Bergin to set up that meeting with Wexford.
Scorers for Laois: Ross King 0-13 (11fs, 1 '65'), Patrick Purcell 1-2, Neil Foyle 1-0, Sean Downey 0-1, Aaron Dunphy 0-1, Stephen Maher 0-1, Aidan Corby 0-1, Mark Kavanagh 0-1, Stephen Bergin 0-1.
Scorers for Kerry: Shane Nolan 2-6 (4fs, 165), Mikey Boyle 1-1 (1-0f), Padraig Boyle 0-2 (2fs), James O'Connor 0-1, John Buckley 0-1, Jordan Conway 0-1, Bryan Murphy 0-1, John Griffin 0-1, Philip Lucid 0-1.
LAOIS: Enda Rowland, Lee Cleere, Leigh Bergin, Dwane Palmer, Ciaran Collier, Charles Dywer, Matthew Whelan, Ross King, Patrick Purcell, Sean Downey, Ryan Mullaney, Paddy Whelan, Aaron Dunphy, Neil Foyle, Stephen Maher.
Subs: John Lennon for P Whelan (inj, 32 mins), Aidan Corby for R Mullaney (HT), Mark Kavanagh for Sean Downey (57 min), Stephen Bergin for S Maher (64 mins), Brian Corby for N Foyle (69 mins).
KERRY: Martin Stackpoole, James O'Connor, Rory Horgan, Sean Weir, John Buckley, Darren Dineen, Tom Murnane, Jack Goulding, Paudie O'Connor, Brendan O'Leary, Michael O'Leary, Jordan Conway, Padraig Boyle, Mikey Boyle, Shane Nolan.
Subs: John Griffin for J Goulding (58 mins), Maurice O'Connor for J Conway (60 mins), Bryan Murphy for T Murnane (64 mins), Philip Lucid for S Nolan (68 mins).
REFEREE: Alan Kelly (Galway).