The first provincial U21 hurling trophy of the year was up for grabs in O’Moore Park in Portlaoise this evening with Kilkenny faced the home side Laois in the Bord Gáis Energy Leinster championship decider.
We went minute-by-minute to record all the action.
19.13 – We’re just under 2o minutes away from throw-in in Portlaoise as the home Laois square off against raging hot favourites Kilkenny for the honours in this year’s Leinster U21 hurling final.
19.15 – Here’s the Kilkenny team news for tonight’s game. Senior star Cillian Buckley returns to the side having missed their semi-final victory over Wexford due to a hamstring injury.
Buckley’s inclusion sees an attacking reshuffle as John Power, younger brother of senior Richie, moves into full-forward with Walter Walsh switching to the corner, captain Kevin Kelly coming out to the wing and Cathal Kenny dropping to the bench.
There is one positional change in defence with Brian Kennedy going to corner-back and Joe Lyng set to start at wing-back.
KILKENNY: Dylan Walsh (Thomastown); Jason Corcoran (John Lockes), Willie Phelan (Dunnamaggin), Brian Kennedy (St Lachtain’s); Luke Harney (Kilamcow), Richie Doyle (Barrow Rangers), Joe Lyng (Rower/Inistioge); Geoff Brennan (St Patrick’s), Ollie Walsh (Dicksboro); Kevin Kelly (St Patrick’s), Padraig Walsh (Tullaroan), Cillian Buckley (Dicksboro); Walter Walsh (Tullogher/Rosbercon), John Power (Carrickshock), Ger Aylward (Glenmore).
19.18 – And here’s the Laois team news. They make one change in defence as Bill Duggan comes into the team at centre-back in a move that sees Adrian Phelan switching to left corner-back and John Finane dropping out of the team.
LAOIS: Eoin Fleming (Borris-in-Ossory/Kilcotton); Packie Flynn (The Harps), Gearoid Burke (Camross), Adrian Phelan (Borris-in-Ossory/Kilcotton); Jim Fitzpatrick (Borris-in-Ossory/Kilcotton), Bill Duggan (Clough-Ballacolla), Nathan Unwin (Rathdowney-Errill), David Freeman (The Harps), Barry Dunne (The Harps); Willie Dunphy (Clough-Ballacolla), Pauric Lawlor (Ballinakill), Stephen Maher (Clough-Ballacolla); Brendan Reddin (Castletown/Slieve Bloom), Neil Foyle (Borris-in-Ossory/Kilcotton), Darren King (Rathdowney-Errill).
19.21 – Here’s the match guide to tonight’s tussle in O’Moore Park.
19.23 – There’s GAA action elsewhere tonight that we’ll be keeping an eye on. Action has already got underway in the Munster JFC final between Clare and Kerry which began in Milltown-Malbay at 7pm. Currently with 20 minutes gone, it’s Clare who are in the ascendancy by 2-4 to 0-5 thanks to goals from Noel Downes and Killian Malone.
19.25 – And also at 7.30pm in St Conleth’s Park in Newbridge, the Leinster minor football semi-final takes place with Dublin, managed by former county star Dessie Farrell, going head to head with Kildare for the right to face Meath in the decider on July 22nd. We’ll keep you updated on that as well.
19.28 – Here’s the thoughts of Kilkenny’s Cillian Buckley and Laois captain Darren King ahead of the game.
19.32 – Kilkenny 0- 2 Laois 0-0: Kevin Kelly, the leading scorer for Kilkenny with 0-9 in their semi-final win over Wexford, gets them off the mark here when pointing a free from halfway inside the opening minute. And that’s followed up by a point from play by Padraig Walsh. Two minutes gone.
19.33 – Meanwhile Kerry have grabbed a goal back in the Munster JFC final against Clare courtesy of Paul O’Donoghue.
19.35 – Kilkenny 1-4 Laois 0-0: This is already starting to look extremely ominous for Laois and there’s only five minutes elapsed. Cillian Buckley grabs a point from play, then Ger Aylward blasts to the net after a pass from Walter Walsh and then Aylward taps over another point. Kilkenny have started in a powerful fashion.
19.36 – Half-time in the Munster JFC final and Clare are ahead by a slender margin, 2-5 to 1-7, against Kerry. In Newbridge , Kildare are ahead 0-2 to 0-0 early on in the Leinster MFC semi-final against Dublin.
19.38 – Kilkenny 1-4 Laois 0-1: Laois have got off the mark with their leading attacker Stephen Maher displaying his accuracy from frees in converting a placed ball. 7 minutes gone.
19.40 – Kilkenny 1-5 Laois 0-2: Kilkenny quickly cancel out that score courtesy of a Ger Aylward point. He’s already amassed 1-2 and is part of a Cats forward line that look extremely dangerous. Laois do manage to move the ball downfield themselves and full-forward Neil Foyle, a player with seniro experience, does excellently to flight over a point from the left wing. Tony Doran’s side look like they’ve settled somewhat after that poor start. 10 minutes gone.
19.41 – Kilkenny 2-6 Laois 0-2: Kilkenny pounce for their second goal and this strike is all the work of Walter Walsh who charges through the middle before offloading to John Power who whips the ball to the net. Padraig Walsh adds another point and Laois are in serious trouble. 12 minutes have elapsed.
19.44 – All square in the Leinster MFC semi-final, Dublin 0-3 Kildare 0-3 in the early stages.
19.48 – Kilkenny 2-10 Laois 0-3: Kilkenny are simply proving far too strong for their beleaguered opponents. Padraig Walsh, Walter Walsh, who becomes the last of the Kilkenny forwards to register on the scoreboard, and Ollie Walsh all raise white flags. Laois pull a score back in reply courtesy of Darren King but then that is wiped out by Kevin Kelly. 17 minutes gone and Kilkenny have a commanding 14-point lead. It’s not looking like we are going to have a shock result to repeat last Sunday’s Leinster senior decider.
19.49 – Kildare have edged ahead by 0-5 to 0-4 against Dublin after 15 minutes in the Leinster MFC semi-final.
19.53 – Kilkenny 3-12 Laois 0-4: And even at this early stage, that should be that. Kevin Kelly, from a free, and Cillian Buckley, from play when he probably should have found the net, grab points and then John Power races clear and emphatically rifles home his second goal of the match. Darren King snatches a point for Laois but with 23 minutes gone and trying to bridge a 17-point deficit, it’s difficult to see them making much headway.
19.55 – Tightly balanced in the other two matches that are on tonight. In the Munster JFC final, it’s Clare 2-6 Kerry 1-9 early in the second-half and in the Leinster MFC semi-fina,l it’s Dublin 0-7 Kildare 0-5 in the first-half of that tie.
19.58 – Kilkenny 3-13 Laois 0-5: Stephen Maher fires over a free for Laois and the Midlands county have also made their first substitution of the evening with James Ryan coming on at centre-forward for Pauric Lawlor.
20.03 – HALF-TIME – Kilkenny 3-14 Laois 0-6: The half concludes with Stephen Maher firing over another free for Laois and Ger Aylward grabbing one in response for Kilkenny. No doubt who’s in control as Kilkenny have stormed into a 17-point lead. They are in control in defence and midfield as they supply a constant stream of possession to an attack where Padraig Walsh, John Power and Ger Aylward are on fire. It’s looking almost certain at this stage that they will be claiming provincial honours and moving forward to contest the All-Ireland semi-final against Galway on August 25th.
20.05 – Elsewhere tonight, it’s advantage Kerry entering the final quarter of the Munster JFC final in Milltown-Malbay. They lead Clare 3-13 to 2-7 after St Pat’s Blennerville attacker David O’Callaghan, who received gametime for the Kerry senior side during the league this year, grabbing two goals in quick succession. The Banner outfit are also down to fourteen men following the dismissal of Darren Hickey.
20.07 – And in the Leinster MFC semi-final in Newbridge it’s level at the break, Kildare 1-5 Dublin 0-8. The Lilywhites goal came from Neil Flynn just before the interval.
20.09 – Here are the scorers from the first-half of the Leinster U21HC final in Portlaoise.
KILKENNY: G Aylward 1-3, J Power 2-0, K Kelly 0-4 (0-3f), P Walsh 0-3, C Buckley 0-2, W Walsh, O Walsh 0-1 each.
LAOIS: S Maher 0-3 (0-3f), D King 0-2, N Foyle 0-1.
20.14 – Kilkenny 3-14 Laois 0-8: A really bright start to the second-half by Laois with Stephen Maher, from a free, and Darren King both firing over early points. Charlie Dwyer and Kieran McEvoy have been brought into the Laois team at half-time.
20.18 – Kilkenny 3-16 Laois 0-9: Points traded by the team’s respective freetakers with Kevin Kelly (Kilkenny) and Stephen Maher (Laois) on target. Padraig Walsh then hits his fourth point of the game for Kilkenny and they should not be caught from here with 24 minutes left and a 16-point lead in their possession.
20.20 – Kilkenny 3-16 Laois 1-9: Laois are going to need goals if they are going to stage an improbable revival and they’ve registered one with Neil Foyle firing a 20-yard free past a packed goalmouth and into the net. 20 minutes of normal time left.
20.23 – Kilkenny 3-17 Laois 1-10: Stephen Maher lofts over a lovely point from the left wing for Laois but Ger Aylward quickly cancels that out at the other end for Kilkenny.
20.24 – All over in the Munster JFC final and despite a late goal by Clare’s David Ryan, it is Kerry who run out comfortable winners by 3-18 to 3-7.
20.25 – And Dublin have grabbed a goal against Kildare in the Leinster MFC semi-final through Conor McHugh to lead 1-9 to 1-6 after 34 minutes in Newbridge.
20.26 – Two substitutes made on the Kilkenny team with Martin Gaffney and Owen McGrath both being introduced into the action as Ollie Walsh and Luke Harney make way. We’re entering the final quarter and while Laois are battling admirably, it’s hard to see Kilkenny slipping up here with a 13-point advantage.
20.28 – Kilkenny 3-19 Laois 1-10: And Gaffney makes an immediate impact as he fires over the bar after his initial shot for goal was well-blocked by Laois netminder Eoin Fleming. Full-forward John Power then clips over another point for Kilkenny. 13 minutes of normal time left here.
20.32 – Kilkenny 3-20 Laois 1-11: A neat point by Walter Walsh keeps the scoreboard ticking over for Kilkenny but Stephen Maher, who to his credit has fought hard for Laois, hits back with a score of his own. Nine minutes left.
20.35 – Kilkenny 4-20 Laois 1-12: And it’s a second goal for Kilkenny’s Ger Aylward as he knocks a shot to the net after a delivery by Cathal Kenny, introduced earlier for Cillian Buckley into the Cats attack. Willie Dunphy had notched a point before that for Laois but that fourth strike clinches Kilkenny’s success. They lead by 17 points with just over five minutes remaining.
20.36 – To compound the woes of Laois, corner-back Packie Flynn has just been sent-off after receiving a second yellow card.
20.38 – Kilkenny 4-22 Laois 1-13: Another pointed free by Kevin Kelly and then Padraig Walsh snatches a point from play. Darren King grabs one back for Laois but this game is petering out to its inevitable conclusion. Michael Brennan into the Kilkenny attack for Walter Walsh.
20.39 – In Newbridge with ten minutes remaining, Dublin look to be in control of their Leinster MFC semi-final as they lead Kildare by 2-13 to 1-8. Cormac Costello with the second goal of the match for Dessie Farrell’s side.
20.42 – Kilkenny 4-24 Laois 1-13: Ger Aylward has just fired over another point for Kilkenny and the Glenmore man has also been announced as the TG4 man-of-the-match. A fitting recognition of his performance while Padraig Walsh has tapped over another point for Kilkenny.
20.46 – FULL-TIME – Kilkenny 4-24 Laois 1-13: That’s it, Kilkenny run out convincing victors of the Bord Gáis Energy Leinster U21HC final. The game ended with Laois denied another goal after a fantastic save by Kilkenny goalkeeper Dylan Walsh after a fierce drive by Neil Foyle. It was a comfortable win for them with the foundations laid in the first-half when they fired three goals to lead by 3-13 to 0-5 at the break.
20.47 – Kilkenny now advance to face Galway in the All-Ireland U21 semi-final on August 25th after claiming the county’s first Leinster success in this grade since 2009. After the county senior side’s stunning reversal against Galway in the Leinster decider last Sunday, it was a return to normality here as Kilkenny dominated the game from start to finish. The experience that this side had accumulated from their All-Ireland minor triumphs proved telling and clearly there is vast potential in their attack with man-of-the-match Ger Aylward, John Power, Kevin Kelly and Padraig Walsh all in fantastic form.
20.49 – It was a brave effort by Laois with Stephen Maher and Darren King both catching the eye but the county’s wait for a first Leinster title in this grade since 1983 goes on. The gulf in class was evident from an early stage and Laois never looked like stopping Richie Mulrooney’s charges from claiming silverware and St Patrick’s clubman Kevin Kelly is just after lifting the trophy.
20.52 – It’s also concluded in Newbridge with Dublin running out comfortable winners in the semi-final of the Leinster MFC against Kildare by 2-16 to 1-8.
20.56 – Here are the Kilkenny scorers from tonight’s Bord Gáis Energy Leinster U21HC final.
KILKENNY: G Aylward 2-5, J Power 2-1, K Kelly (0-5f), P Walsh 0-6 each, C Buckley, W Walsh 0-2 each, M Gaffney, O Walsh 0-1 each.
And here are the Laois scorers.
LAOIS: S Maher 0-7 (0-5f), N Foyle 1-1, D King 0-4, W Dunphy 0-1.
20.58 – Here’s the Kilkenny team and substitutions from tonight’s game.
KILKENNY: Dylan Walsh (Thomastown); Jason Corcoran (John Lockes), Willie Phelan (Dunnamaggin), Brian Kennedy (St Lachtain’s); Luke Harney (Kilamcow), Richie Doyle (Barrow Rangers), Joe Lyng (Rower/Inistioge); Geoff Brennan (St Patrick’s), Ollie Walsh (Dicksboro); Kevin Kelly (St Patrick’s), Padraig Walsh (Tullaroan), Cillian Buckley (Dicksboro); Walter Walsh (Tullogher/Rosbercon), John Power (Carrickshock), Ger Aylward (Glenmore). Subs: Martin Gaffney (Dicksboro) for Ollie Walsh, Owen McGrath (John Lockes) for Harney, Cathal Kenny (Barrow Rangers) for Buckley, Michael Brennan (St Patrick’s) for Walter Walsh.
21.00 – And here’s the Laois team from tonight’s match.
LAOIS: Eoin Fleming (Borris-in-Ossory/Kilcotton); Packie Flynn (The Harps), Gearoid Burke (Camross), Adrian Phelan (Borris-in-Ossory/Kilcotton); Jim Fitzpatrick (Borris-in-Ossory/Kilcotton), Bill Duggan (Clough-Ballacolla), Nathan Unwin (Rathdowney-Errill), David Freeman (The Harps), Barry Dunne (The Harps); Willie Dunphy (Clough-Ballacolla), Pauric Lawlor (Ballinakill), Stephen Maher (Clough-Ballacolla); Brendan Reddin (Castletown/Slieve Bloom), Neil Foyle (Borris-in-Ossory/Kilcotton), Darren King (Rathdowney-Errill). Subs: James Ryan for Lawlor, Charles Dwyer for Phelan, Conor McEvoy for Unwin, Ross King for Reddin, John Finane for Fitzpatrick.
21.02 – That’s it from tonight’s action with Kilkenny emerging victorious in the Bord Gáis Energy Leinster U21HC final against Laois by 4-24 to 1-13 and victories elsewhere for Kerry in the Munster JFC final against Clare by 3-18 to 3-7 and Dublin in the Leinster MFC semi-final against Kildare by 2-16 to 1-8. Thanks as always for joining us and for your comments.