SportGAA

GAA round-up: Laois hurlers shock Offaly

GAABy Sean McGoldrick
Laois's Zane Keenan celebrates after his side's victory over Offaly
Laois's Zane Keenan celebrates after his side's victory over Offaly

Laois have stunned the hurling world by knocking Offaly out of the Leinster championship.

Less than two weeks ago the team was plunged into crisis when team boss Seamus 'Cheddar' Plunkett resigned after two members of the squad played in a club challenge match.

Now Laois are preparing for a Leinster semi-final showdown against Galway. What a turnaround!

Plunkett was persuaded to return and his players responded in magnificent style as they beat next-door neighbours Offaly for the first time in championship hurling since 1972.

The result was a disaster for Brian Whelehan's Offaly side who showed signs of progress this season when they reached the league quarter-finals.

However, their last competitive match was on the last Sunday in March whereas Laois had three matches in the round-robin section of the Leinster series and this made a crucial difference.

Unless the format for the championship is changed Offaly will be in the round-robin section next year together with Carlow, Westmeath and the newly crowned Christy Ring Cup holders, Kerry.

The start of the game was delayed due to crowd congestion and it looked like it was business as usual for Offaly as they led 0-10 to 0-6 after 25 minutes.

But in a remarkable turnaround Laois hit the next eight points on the spin to turn the game on its head and lead 0-14 to 0-10 at the break.

There was no way back for the Faithful County in the second half as the home side sensed they were on the brink of a breakthrough.

They had a remarkable nine points to spare at the end and top scorer Zane Keenan hit 0-11. The final score was Laois 0-29 Offaly 0-20.

In the other Leinster quarter final tie Wexford had a comfortable 1-24 to 1-16 win over Westmeath in Mullingar to set up a semi-final showdown at Nowlan Park against All-Ireland title holders, Kilkenny.