Kirwan Inspires Laois in Quarter Final Thriller

TG4 All-Ireland Ladies SFC quarter-final

Tyrone 2-12

Laois 1-17

(After extra-time, Tyrone 2-10 Laois 1-13 after 60 minutes).

By Jackie Cahill at St Brendan’s Park, Birr

MARY Kirwan inspired Laois to a sensational extra-time victory against 2010 TG4 All-Ireland Ladies senior football championship runners-up Tyrone at St Brendan’s Park, Birr, on Saturday evening.

Kirwan scored eight points, including five frees, as the O’Moore County advanced to a second successive TG4 All-Ireland Ladies SFC semi-final.

There was plenty of drama at the Offaly venue as inspirational midfielder Tracey Lawlor and Kirwan landed frees in the second period of extra-time to finally seal victory for the Leinster champions, who lost to Dublin in last year’s All-Ireland semi-final.

But Tyrone’s experienced full-forward Gemma Begley dragged a penalty wide in the 73rd minute, when a goal would have sent this year’s Ulster runners-up two points clear at a crucial stage.

Buoyed that let-off, Laois held possession well and defended doggedly until the final whistle, with Shanahoe star Kirwan fittingly having the final say with a 77th minute free, her final score of the game.

At half-time in extra-time, the sides were still deadlocked at 2-12 to 1-15, having shared four points during the first period.

But there was a moment of controversy when referee Sean Joy initially awarded Tyrone a penalty in the 70th minute, before reversing his decision and handing Laois a free out after consulting with his umpire.

Tyrone led by five points at half-time, 2-7 to 0-8, but slumped dramatically and managed just three points in the second half as Laois turned up the heat.

And Tyrone suffered a blow in the 45th minute when corner back Eimear Teague was yellow-carded and sent to the sin-bin for ten minutes.

During the time Teague was off the pitch, Laois scored 1-2 to take the lead for the first time.

Grace Weston’s 46th minute goal tied the scores at 1-11 to 2-8 before Mary Kirwan had a goal ruled out for a square ball.

Points from Mary Kirwan (free) and Sinead Doogue sent Laois two points clear but there was a kick left in Tyrone as full-forward Gemma Begley cut the gap back to just a point in the closing minutes.

And the Red Hands salvaged extra-time with just seconds left on the clock at the end of the regulation hour, when substitute Eilish Gormley pointed with her very first touch after coming on.

Few could have envisaged that degree of difficulty for Tyrone towards the finish, or predicted the end result, particularly as they had impressed with their movement in the first half.

Tyrone got off to the perfect start within two minutes when Sarah Donnelly netted and when Joline Donnelly pointed, they were four clear.

Laois charged back into contention with three unanswered points before Tyrone struck for a second goal, against the run of play at the time, in the ninth minute when Allstar Joline Donnelly pounced.

Those strikes provided a steady buffer for Tyrone, who had goalkeeper Shannon Lynch to thank for a superb point blank save in the 22nd minute to keep out Martha Kirwan.

Scorers for Laois: Mary Kirwan 0-8 (5f), G Weston 1-1, T Lawlor 0-3f, M Dunne & S Doogue 0-2 each, J Moore 0-1.

Scorers for Tyrone: J Donnelly 1-2, S Donnelly 1-0, G Begley 0-3f, C Donnelly, C McGahan & N Woods 0-2 each, E Gormley 0-1.

LAOIS: C Dollard; L Hyland, G Dunne, E Healy; A Taylor, J Moore, M McEvoy; A Casey, A Moore; Mary Kirwan, S Doogue, M Dunne; Martha Kirwan, T Lawlor, G Weston.

Subs: T Fogarty for McEvoy (25), O Farrell for Martha Kirwan (50), D Callinan for Casey (60+7), A Kehoe for M Dunne (69), M McEvoy for A Moore (79).

TYRONE: S Lynch; E Teague, L Donnelly, S McLaughlin; M Gallagher, M Kelly, R Rafferty; S Donnelly, E Conlon; N Woods, C Donnelly, A O’Kane; J Donnelly, G Begley, C McGahan.

Subs: S Quinn for Conlon (38), O O’Neill for O’Kane (40), E Hegarty for J Donnelly (60+3), E Gormley for Quinn (60+7), J Donnelly for Hegarty (70), E Conlon for S Donnelly (76), S Connolly for O’Neill (79).

Referee: S Joy (Kerry).

TG4 Player of the Match – Grace Weston (Laois)

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