Laois crowned Allianz Football League Division 4 champions   05/04/2018

Laois return to Division Three of the NFL as champions following their four-point win over Carlow at Croke Park.

Ross Munnelly and Donie Kingston led the way with a combined total of nine points, but Laois needed two great saves from ‘keeper Graham Brody to deny Ciaran Moran and Brendan Murphy as Carlow rallied in the second half.

It’s been quite a year for Carlow, with their first promotion since 1985 followed by the appointment of Tom Ryan as GAA Director General, but it wasn’t to be for them in the title decider. 

Carlow’s early pressure came to nothing, and it was Laois who found a way to cut through a packed defence to pick off the scores, two of them from the veteran Ross Munnelly, as they moved into a 0-4 to 0-0 lead by the tenth minute.

Munnelly linked cleverly to fire over a vintage score, while Donie Kingston’s point was confirmed by HawkEye, following incisive play from Kieran Lillis and Munnelly.

Brendan Murphy’s efforts to ignite his side proved somewhat frustrating, and Eoghhan Ruth’s workrate offered defensive value, but took away from his offensive potential.

It was backs-to-the-wall stuff for the Barrowsiders throughout a difficult opening quarter, which yielded just one score, a 17th minute Darragh Foley effort.

But Murphy galloped along the left wing to curl over a fine point to lift the spirits, but poor finishing robbed them of the opportunity to further narrow the gap.

Laois' Benny Carroll with Sean Gannon of Carlow after the game.

Towards the end of the half, Turlough O’Brien pushed more men forward, but that served to leave them more open at the back, and Kingston and Munnelly stretched the O’Moore advantage with spectacular scores.

Kingston was in the mood, getting his eye in with typical long range accuracy, and Colm Begley held things together further back with authority.

Carlow’s late flourish saw Foley and Shane Redmond narrow the deficit, but they trailed by 0-10 to 0-5 at the break, but a re-energised start to the second half saw them claw their way back, Seán Murphy, Seán Gannon and Foley, from a free, all on target as they trimmed it back to three.

Anchor man Redmond was at the heart of it as they took the game to their opponents, and they crafted the game’s first goal chance, Ciaran Moran bringing a vital save out of Graham Brody after linking with skipper John Murphy.

And Brendan Murphy also worked the keeper with a snapshot as they continued to test a hard-worked Laois defence.

Laois, meanwhile, saw their scoring touch desert them as they shot a string of wides, but Munnelly steadied the ship with a converted free.

With ten minutes to play, three points separated the sides, but Laois came strong, having gone 16 minutes without a score, and points from Kingston and Lowry saw them over the line.

Laois: G Brody; S Attridge, M Timmons, G Dillon; T Collins, C Begley, R Pigott; J O’Loughlin (0-01), K Lillis (0-01); A Farrell (0-01), B Carroll, B Glynn; E Lowry (0-03, 1f), R Munnelly (0-04, 2f), D Kingston (0-05, 2f).

Subs: D O’Reilly for Carroll (51), D Strong for Glynn (59), D Conway for Munnelly (62), N Donoher for Pigott (65), J Farrell for Kingston (70), F Crowley for Collins (70)

Carlow: R Molloy; C Crowley, S Redmond (0-01), M Rennick; J Morrissey, D St Ledger, C Moran; B Murphy (0-01), S Murphy (0-01); S Gannon (0-03), D Foley (0-03, 1f), E Ruth; P Broderick (0-02, 1f), D O’Brien (D Walsh, 62), J Murphy.

Subs: C Lawlor for Rennick (55), D Walsh for O’Brien (62), B Kavanagh for Moran (65), K Nolan for Morrissey (65), L Walker for J Murphy (70)

Referee: M McNally (Monaghan).

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