Laois through to U-21 semis

Laois 0-11 Mayo 0-6, Dr Hyde Park

An excellent closing quarter helped Laois book a spot in their first Cadbury's All-Ireland Under-21 football final since 1998, as they beat reigning champions Mayo 0-11 to 0-6 at Dr Hyde Park this afternoon.

The westerners were reduced to 14 men just three minutes after the interval, and although Laois missed a penalty chance soon after, they were quick to capitalise on their numerical advantage.

A late point from the 16-year-old Donie Kingston sealed Laois' victory following a powerful closing quarter.

While some excellent football was produced, this was a game dominated by yellow cards and in total 11 were produced, including two for Mayo defender Colm Boyle who was sent to the line in the 34th-minute.

The sides had been level on four occasions up to that point, including three times in the opening half. Sean Dempsey's Laois side held a slender 0-5 to 0-4 lead at the break.

However, it was Mayo who had got off to the brighter start thanks to early points from Pierce Hanley and captain Mark Ronaldson.

Laois failed to panic and responded well with overs from David Conway and MJ Tierney to equalise in the 16th-minute.

The midlanders had plenty of chances to hit the front, Mayo did go back ahead, however Laois finished strongest before half-time with Conway and Tierney on target.

The sides were level 15 seconds after the restart, thanks to a Mark Ronaldson point but the sending-off of Boyle, following a foul on Craig Rogers, considerably dented the champions' hopes.

Mayo were not content on dropping their heads easily and were consistently pressing for scores. They were met though with a very resilient Laois defence with Niall Donoher, Cahir Healy and Mark Timmons offering plenty of solidity.

Although man of the match Tierney failed to hit the back of the net for Laois from a 42nd-minute penalty, after teenager Kingston had been fouled, Laois had enough in reserve and the introduction of Kingston and Ian Fleming helped inspire them to victory. Crucially, they outscored Mayo by five points to one in the closing quarter with Tierney (0-5) finishing as their top scorer.

The second semi-final between Munster champions Cork and Ulster winners Armagh takes place tomorrow in Portlaoise (throw-in 3pm).

LAOIS: C Munnelly; C Healy, M Timmons, B Meredith; S Lalor, J O'Loughlin, N Donoher (0-1); B Quigley, C Sg Greene (0-1); D Brennan, C Rogers (0-1), S O'Leary; MJ Tierney (0-5, 2f, 1 '45'), S O'Neill, D Conway (0-2, 1f).

Subs used: D Kingston (0-1, 1f) for Conway (39 mins), I Fleming for OLeary (53).

MAYO: M McNulty; A Joyce, G Cafferkey, D Kilcullen; C Barrett, T Cunniffe, C Boyle; B Moran, T Parsons (0-2); A Campbell, P Hanley (0-1, 1f), A McManamon; E Varley (0-1), A Hanley, M Ronaldson (0-2, 1f).

Subs used: J Burke for McManamon, S O'Shea for Moran (both 37 mins), B Benson for Varley (53), P OConnor for Hanley (61).

Referee: Martin Sludden (Tyrone)

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