Waterford scrape past Laois
By Matthew Hurley at Nowlan Park
Waterford have got over a massive hurdle today as they finally put away a dogged Laois side.
At half time, it looked as if the Deise had the game wrapped up at 1-16 to 0-11, but Cheddar Plunkett’s side upped it in the second half and made a game of it.
The Deise’s 19 wides kept the Leinster side in the game till the end, which will not please the Waterford management whatsoever.
Patrick Curran, Jack Prendergast, Iarlaith Daly and Jack Fagan contributed to the Waterford scoring early on, but it was Kevin Moran’s goal that tipped the favourites into control, as they led by 1-8 to 0-4 going into the first water break.
Points from Paddy Purcell and PJ Scully made sure Laois kept somewhat in touch but scores from Austin Gleeson, Stephen Bennett, Neil Montgomery and Calum Lyons meant the Munster led by 8 at the break.
Laois needed a bright second half start to stand any chance in this game, which is exactly what they got as Cha Dwyer and Enda Rowland settled them down with scores before a crucial goal from Purcell left the margin at 4 points.
The Leinster side went into the second water break within 2 points of the Deise, helped largely by Scully’s frees and a point from wing back James Keyes.
Remarkably, Laois took the lead at the start of the final quarter as Ciaran Comerford fired the ball past Shaun O’Brien, a shock was suddenly on the cards.
Bennett and Dessie Hutchinson kept the Munster alive with points as Aaron Dunphy put Laois a point clear with 10 minutes to go.
The game suddenly swung back in Waterford’s favour as Patrick Curran got a crucial second goal for Liam Cahill’s side.
Despite the goal, the underdogs kept the margin within 3 points going into additional time until Bennett wrapped the game up once and for all with late goal.
Waterford survived a mammoth task in the end, but questions will surely be asked of Liam Cahill’s troops after 2 poor performances in a row.
For Laois, after a poor league campaign and first game v Wexford, Cheddar would have to be happy with his sides’ resilience over the last 2 weeks.
By surviving in the Liam McCarthy for yet another season and coming close today, they will be confident now going into a League relegation play off v Westmeath in a few weeks’ time.
Waterford Scorers: Stephen Bennett (7 frees, 1 ’65) (1-8), P Curran (1-2), K Moran (1-1), D Hutchinson (0-3), A Gleeson, C Lyons (0-2 each), J Prendergast, J Fagan, N Montgomery, I Daly, D Lyons (0-1 each)
Laois Scorers: PJ Scully (8 frees, 1 sideline) (0-10), P Purcell (1-4), C Comerford (1-0), C Dwyer (0-2), C Collier, J Keyes, P Delaney, E Rowland (1 free), A Dunphy (0-1 each)
Waterford: S O’Brien; C Gleeson, C Prunty, I Kenny; C Lyons, I Daly, K Moran; A Gleeson, N Montgomery; J Fagan, J Prendergast, Stephen Bennett; D Hutchinson, Shane Bennett, P Curran.
Subs: D Lyons for Montgomery (30 mins), M Kiely for Moran (48 mins), P Hogan for Fagan (51 mins), J Barron for Prendergast (57 mins), S McNulty for Shane Bennett (60 mins)
Laois: E Rowland; S Maher, S Downey, D Hartnett; P Delaney, C McEvoy, J Keyes; F Fennell, J Kelly; P Purcell, C Dwyer, C Collier; PJ Scully, W Dunphy, R King.
Subs: C Comerford for Dunphy (32 mins), J Ryan for Maher (HT), A Dunphy for King (56 mins), J Lennon for McEvoy (63 mins), M Whelan for Keyes (72 mins)