Electric Ireland All-Ireland Minor Hurling Quarter-Final
GALWAY 0-23 LAOIS 2-14
By Steven Miller at MW Hire O’Moore Park
Aaron Niland helped himself to 0-12 as Galway booked their place in the All Ireland minor hurling championship semi-finals thanks to a hard-earned win over Laois in O’Moore Park.
Galway had been comfortable winners over beaten Munster finalists Clare last weekend with Niland hitting 0-16.
And he was their chief scorer once again as they had just that bit much for a spirited home side coming off the back of a Leinster final loss to Offaly two weeks ago.
In a three-team round robin format, Laois will now face Clare in Ennis next Saturday with the winners going forward to join Galway, Tipperary and Offaly in the All Ireland semi-finals.
The game began with two Aaron Niland points either side of a Jack Breen score before it burst into life.
Laois almost had the ball in the net in the third minute when Ben Deegan’s shot was blocked down and came to Jer Quinlan who unleashed a thunderbolt that was saved by Donagh Fahy.
Ben Deegan pointed the resulting 65 but from the next puck-out, Eoghan Murphy won it and found Quinlan again who this time beat Fahy from close range.
Laois were rampant now and Jack Breen set up Cormac Byrne for another goal chance but again Fahy denied him with Deegan once again pointing the 65.
Conor Dolphin and Niland responded with points for Galway but a Ben Deegan free from in front of the terrace left Laois 1-4 to 0-5 ahead at the midpoint of the half.
However, Galway grabbed the next three scores via Paddy McCarthy, Conor Lawless and Niland to retake the lead but Laois were level after 20 minutes thanks to Deegan.
Deegan and Niland traded frees again before Cullen Killeen regained the advantage for Galway as we entered the final five minutes of the half.
Deegan and Thomas Brennan scored for Laois before half time but so too did Rory Burke and Cullen Killeen to take 0-12 to 1-8 lead at half time.
Paddy McCarthy and Jer Quinlan swapped points when play resumed before Niland struck his seventh of the game to give Galway a two-point lead in the 37th minute.
Laois then had a good spell but failed to capitalise and hit two poor wides before Niland landed two frees to leave it 0-16 to 1-9 as we entered the final 15 minutes.
But Laois refused to give up and Jer Quinlan scored two points – the second after a super run from sub Mark Downey to bring them back into the game.
Niland took his tally to 11 with another brace as Deegan responded with a free to leave it 0-18 to 1-12 with 50 minutes on the clock.
Galway looked to pull away then with a flurry of scores but as we entered four minutes of injury time, the gap was back to three.
Eoghan Cuddy and Thomas Brennan combined to set up Mark Downey to rattle the net for a second time.
Laois had two late chances to snatch a draw but Bobby Murphy’s effort was blocked out for a 65 and another chance was also thwarted as Galway held on.
Scorers for Galway: Aaron Niland 0-12 (six frees, one 65), Cullen Killeen 0-3, Rory Burke 0-3, Paddy McCarthy 0-2, Conor Lawless 0-2, Conor Dolphin 0-1.
Scorers for Laois: Jer Quinlan 1-5, Ben Deegan 0-7 (five frees, two 65s), Mark Downey 1-0, Jack Breen 0-1, Thomas Brennan 0-1
GALWAY: Donagh Fahy; Luke McInerney, Sean Murphy, Darragh Coinihan; Ben O’Donovan, Oscar O’Gorman, Joey Wallace; Cullen Killeen, Paddy McCarthy; Orin Burke, Rory Burke, Conor Lawless; Ryan O’Donnell, Aaron Niland, Conor Dolphin Subs: Cillian Trayers for Burke (44), Jack Lonergan for O’Donovan (48), Conor Gilligan for Dolphin (54), Jack O’Malley for McCarthy (59), Stephen Keane for Lawless (61)
LAOIS: Brochan O’Reilly; Bobby Murphy, Ciaran Flynn, Joseph Pearson; Thomas Brennan, Tom Cuddy, Cormac Hogan; Rory Kelly, Kevin Byrne; Ben Deegan, Eoghan Murphy, Jack Breen; Eoghan Cuddy, Jer Quinlan, Cormac Byrne. Subs: Mark Downey for C Byrne (46), Aaron Carroll for Breen (49), Andrew McDonagh for Murphy (52), Ciaran Coss for Kelly (55), Kevin Hyland for Deegan (56)
Referee: Thomas Gleeson (Dublin)