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Allianz HL Div 1B: Maher stars for Laois
Allianz Hurling League Division 1B
LAOIS 1-26 OFFALY 1-20
By Rory Delaney at O'Moore Park, Portlaoise
Laois earned a six point win over neighbours Offaly at O'Moore Park. A determined Laois outfit had the upper hand on the Faithful men, who finished with 13 players.
Offaly raced out of the blocks, keen to get the loss to Galway out of their system, and they couldn't have started any better. Peter Geraghty pointed after two minutes, and then Oisn Kelly raced through an exposed Laois defence to shoot to the bottom corner.
Geraghty hit another moments later and Offaly led by five as Laois looked to be in all sorts of trouble, but they responded.
Stephen 'Picky' Maher opened their account with a point from play, and Cha Dwyer added another seconds later.
Then, a long ball was arrowed in to Neil Foyle, who caught it ahead of Conor Doughan, turned and ran at goal, rifling a shot past James Dempsey from 14 yards.
That set up a keenly contested first half, with fierce rivals going toe-to-toe for the next 20 minutes. Maher found his range from placed balls and started to get Laois on the front foot, but Shane Dooley was having similar success at the other end. The teams were level on five separate occasions between the seventh and 27th minutes, but the home side surged ahead coming up to half time.
Willie Dunphy and Cha Dwyer scored two excellent points to build up some momentum, before a block from Neil Foyle allowed Dwyer to hit his third of the half. A couple of Maher frees then had Laois four ahead when Offaly's Sean Gardiner was shown a straight red card for a foul on Cian Taylor. Maher tapped over the resultant free.
Dooley got a point back from a free for Offaly, but it had been Laois's half, and they lead 1-12 to 1-8 at the interval.
The home side then hit three points in as many minutes on the restart to go seven in front, before Offaly went down to 13 men when Aidan Treacy was red-carded for an off-the-ball incident.
Scorers for Laois: Stephen Maher 0-12 7fs, Cha Dwyer 0-5, Ross King 0-3, Neil Foyle 1-0, Willie Dunphy, Cian Taylor 0-2 each, Paddy Whelan, Paddy Purcell 0-1 each.
Scorers for Offaly: Shane Dooley 0-10 10fs, Oisin Kelly 1-2, Cillian Kiely 0-3, Sean Cleary, Peter Geraghty 0-2 each, Paddy Delaney 0-1.
LAOIS: Enda Rowland; Dwane Palmer, Leigh Bergin, Padraig Lawlor; Cahir Healy, Matthew Whelan, Ryan Mullaney; Patrick Purcell, Ben Conroy; Stephen Maher, Charles Dwyer, Paddy Whelan; Willie Dunphy, Neil Foyle, Ross King.
Subs: Cian Taylor for Matthew Whelan 23, Sean Downey for Padraig Lawlor 25, inj, Aaron Dunphy for Paddy Whelan 45, Aidan Corby for Ben Conroy 61, Conor Phelan for Dwane Palmer 69.
OFFALY: James Dempsey; Ben Conneely, Conor Doughan, Michael Cleary; Dermot Short, Sean Ryan, Sean Gardiner; Aidan Treacy, Cillian Kiely; Paddy Murphy, Shane Dooley, Oisn Kelly; Peter Geraghty, Sean Cleary, James Mulrooney.
Subs: Emmett Nolan for Paddy Murphy 29, inj, Paddy Delaney for Michael Cleary half time, Enda Grogan for Mulrooney 48, Padraig Guinan for Conneely 56.
REFEREE: Johnny Ryan Tipperary.