Kavanagh's perfect 10 sees Laois defeat local rivals

Laois' Mark Kavanagh and Tom Spain of Offaly. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Laois 3-17 - 2-16 Offaly

Mark Kavanagh fired 10 points, as Laois claimed their first win of this years Allianz Hurling League 1B campaign at a wet O'Moore Park in Portlaoise tonight.

In what was Laois's 500th game in the Hurling League, the O'Moore's delivered in impressive fashion, and were more convincing than the four-point margin suggested at the final whistle.

The sides were well balanced in the opening stages, and were level on three occasions inside the first 11 minutes.

Kavanagh and Joe Bergin central for their respective sides, with Eanna Lyons also on target for Laois early on.

A Paddy Murphy score put Offaly 0-4 to 0-3 clear after 13 minutes, but this advantage was short-lived as Laois really got motoring – firing 2-7 without reply in a 10-minute spell.

The Offaly rear-guard were unable to cope with Laois's attacking prowess, and from the puck-out Willie Dunphy cut home to fire the first of two goals of the half.

Aaron Dunphy added his first two points of the game, with impressive scores from play - one either side of an Enda Rowland missed free for the hosts.

Laois showed well throughout the half in the midfield sector, winning most of the puck-out's, and were rewarded with some fine scores.

The O'Moore's ended the opening quarter on a strong note, with Willie Dunphy firing his second goal, after good work in the build-up by Paddy Purcell and Stephen Maher; before sending a blazing effort to the net from 21 metres.

Laois failed to ease up, with Mark Kavanagh converting a free to extend the gap to eight points on 18 minutes.

The previously unerring Bergin had a chance to get a much-required score for the visitors, but fired two efforts wide in quick succession.

Laois continued apace with points from John Lennon, Maher (2) and Aaron Dunphy helping them moving 2-10 to 0-4 ahead after 23 and a half minutes.

Indeed, the hosts could have been further ahead, but Offaly keeper Eoghan Cahill blocked a Willie Dunphy goal effort in the 22nd minute.

Bergin brought his tally to four points, with Offaly's first score in almost 13 minutes, but Laois continued to impress and looked very eager upfront.

Kavanagh added three of the final four points of the half – the other a Kevin Connolly effort for Offaly – but Laois were firmly on top, and could afford eight first half wides.

Trailing by 2-13 to 0-6 at the break, Offaly needed changes, and made three switches for the second half, with Sean Dolan, Shane Dooley and Aidan Treacy introduced.

The Faithful County were certainly a lot more eager in the second half, and came out strongly with Bergin adding a pointed free inside a minute of the restart.

This was quickly cancelled out by Kavanagh score, but Offaly were eager and found the net for the only time in this game, after Colm Gath picked up a loose ball and grabbed a goal, leaving it at double scores 2-14 to 1-7 after 38 minutes.

Laois worked hard, but Paddy Purcell was denied of a goal, after a fine Eoghan Cahill saved in the 42nd minutes, in a spell where Laois were held scoreless for 12 minutes.

Indeed Eddie Brennan's side only registered a goal between the 40th and 62nd minutes, with Stephen Maher firing to the net, after Purcell was initially blocked.

This opened up a 3-15 to 1-10 advantage, but Offaly rattled off four unanswered points, and were strong in the final quarter.

Laois came under pressure with five minutes of normal time remaining, as Offaly went in search of a goal, with Laois keeper Enda Rowland forced to come well off his line, before the hosts eventually won a free out.

Offaly battled well in the closing stages, and finished strongly with Dooley grabbing his second point, before Bergin fired a late consolation goal deep in injury-time.

Scorers for Laois: M Kavanagh (8f, 1 sl) 0-10; W Dunphy 2-0; S Maher 1-2; A Dunphy 0-3; E Lyons, J Lennon 0-1 each.

Scorers for Offaly: J Bergin (1-7f) 1-8; C Gath 1-0; S Dooley (1f), M Egan 0-2; K Connolly, P Murphy, P Camon, E Cahill (1f) 0-1 each.

LAOIS: E Rowland; J Phelan, M Whelan, D Hartnett; J Kelly, R Mullaney, J Cranny; J Lennon, S Downey; A Dunphy, É Lyons, P Purcell; M Kavanagh, W Dunphy, S Maher.

Subs: M Dowling for W Dunphy (50); C Phelan for Lyons (64); E Gaughan for A Dunphy (68); L Burke for Cranny (69); P Delaney for Downey (73)

OFFALY: E Cahill; T Spain, N Houlihan, B Conneely; E Grogan, P Camon, A Flynn; S Kinsella, M Egan; C Gath, P Murphy, D Egan; K Connolly, J Bergin, C Egan.

Subs: K Dunne for D Egan (36-HT Blood); S Dooley for Murphy (HT); S Dolan for D Egan (HT); A Treacy for Spain (HT); P Rigney for Grogan (50); K Dunne for Kinsella (68)

REFEREE: Alan Kelly (Galway)

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