DESPITE CONCEDING TWO goals, Laois had their goalkeeper Eoin Culliton to thank for getting through their All-Ireland Football Championship Round 3 Qualifier clash with Wexford on Saturday evening as the Timahoe shotstopper pulled off two impressive second-half saves.
Ross Munnelly’s eight points, five from frees, also proved crucial for Laois after Donie Kingston surprisingly didn’t start the game for the visitors; Evan O’Carroll coming in at half forward in his place.
It was Wexford who had the better start to the game, scoring a point through PJ Banville after just 25 seconds before he followed it up with the game’s first goal following some great work from Ciaran Lyng.
After a point from Ross Munnelly, Wexford scored their second of the game through Paddy Byrne, swiftly followed by two points from Ciaran Lyng and, at that stage, the home side looked well on course for a comfortable half-time lead.
However, some terrible profligacy in possession and four points in succession from Laois drew them to within one point (2-4 to 0-9) as the half-time whistle went.
Just like the first half though, Wexford scored with their very first attack of the second half but the Midlanders scored the next two points to bring the game level.
The sides exchanged the next few scores before Eoin Culliton denied Barnes a second goal with a magnificent save.
Laois, who were the better of the two sides for much of the game, took the lead for the first time since the fifth minute of the game with a monster point from Colm Begley before Culliton once again denied Wexford when a goal looked certain.
Wexford just didn’t make enough of the chances they created in the second half and, even with four minutes of injury time, they weren’t able to close the gap and Laois ran out two point winners.
They will now face the losers of Monaghan and Donegal in round four.
Scorers for Laois: Munnelly 0-8 (0-5f); Conway 0-3 (0-3f); Begley 0-3; O’Carroll 0-1; Meridith 0-1
Scorers for Wexford: Banville 1-1; Byrne 1-0; Lyng 0-5 (0-2f); Carty 0-1; Doyle 0-1
LAOIS: Eoin Culliton; Paul Begley, Mark Timmons, Peter O’Leary; Darren Strong, Kieran Lillis, Padraig McMahon; Padraig Clancy, John O’Loughlin; Ross Munnelly, Conor Carty, Colm Begley; Billy Sheehan, Conor Meredith, David Conway
SUBS: C Boyle for Clancy (43 mins); Donie Kingston for Conway (48 mins); Stephen Attride for Timmons (56 mins); Colm Kelly for O’Carroll (61 mins); Dennis Booth for Lillis (66 mins)
WEXFORD: Anthony Masterson; Michael Furlong, Graeme Molloy, Robert Tierney; Brian Malone, David Murphy, Adrian Flynn; Daithi Waters, Rory Quinlivan; Conor Carty, Redmond Barry, Aindreas Doyle; Ciaran Lyng, Paddy Byrne, PJ Banville
SUBS: Ben Brosnan for Doyle (41mins); James Holmes for Tierney (56 mins); Shane Roche for Banville (59 mins)
Referee: Ciaran Branagan (Down)