LAOIS 0-16, DUBLIN 0-14
Laois arrived at Croke Park for last Sunday’s Leinster football semifinal having been cowed by a league final loss to Tyrone, having had Colm Parkinson’s wind taken out of their sails, and having needed two games to get past a rugged yet ordinary Offaly in the quarterfinal.
Dublin, on the other hand, were the third-ranked team in the country and were full of bluster and swagger. But they didn’t reckon on a Laois team that would shoot only six wides all afternoon, compared to their own 15.
Apart from one or two fine cameos, Ray Cosgrove was nothing like the irrepressible force of last year, and although Alan Brogan was the most dangerous player on the field when he got possession, Dublin couldn’t feed him enough to turn that danger into supremacy. And Ciaran Whelan and Darren Magee got no foothold at midfield, where Padriac Clancy and Noel Garvan had fine games for Laois, ably assisted by center back Tom Kelly and center forward Mick Lawlor, both of whom foraged well for midfield breaks.
Even when their 0-8 to 0-4 lead began to be chipped away in the second half, Laois didn’t panic. So now they go on to meet Kildare in the Leinster final, the first between the sides since 1946.
KILDARE 0-15, MEATH 1-11
Meath finally wrote a check they couldn’t cash at Croke Park last Saturday night, losing a cracking Leinster Championship semifinal to Kildare. Trailing by 1-3 to 0-11 at halftime, they set about chasing Padraig Nolan’s side in the second half and staging a trademark comeback. But although Kildare could hear the Meath footsteps, they held their nerve. In the end, Sean Boylan’s team just ran out of road.
There was an ozone-layer sized hole at the heart of the Kildare defense and early on Graham Geraghty exploited it ruthlessly. After one run through, he fed Charles McCarthy, whose weak shot was saved by Enda Murphy. A minute later, he wasn’t a selfless and it took a rugby tackle from Alan Barry as fierce as any Geraghty will have experienced in his time at Buccaneers to stop him. Trevor Giles stroked home the penalty and a few minutes later Daith