By KEVIN EGAN
An incredible shootout between the Leinster and Connacht champions ended with Roscommon securing their place in the TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate semi-finals, with goals from Alice Kelly, Laura Fleming and Rebecca Finan proving crucial at Hogan Park in Moate today.
Laois manager Kevin Doogue stepped aside after three years at the helm of the O’Moore County after the game, expressing his gratitude to the players but also his disappointment at PJ Aherne’s performance, with his side picking up four yellow cards and one late red to Jane Moore.
The Midlanders hit the ground running when Caoimhe Simms pounced on some defensive hesitation and nipped in to blast home a goal in the first minute, and when Clare Conlon added two points to follow up, one from play and one from a free, there was a danger that Laois could move out of sight very quickly.
Instead Roscommon settled into the game once they won a couple of possessions around midfield and soon found their rhythm. Fleming chipped over their first point and was then was involved in the build-up as Alice Kelly rifled the ball into the roof of the net for their first goal. Both sides were now on top form, firing over scores with regularity, and a glorious team goal that was finished from a tight angle by Fleming saw the Rossies move in front for the first time.
Rebecca Finan and Joanne Cregg maintained the lead with good scores but Laois were never out of the game and two superb points from Erone Fitzpatrick drew them level at half time, 1-10 to 2-7.
The quality was even better after half time, as Roscommon scored 1-7 – the goal from Rebecca Finan – while Laois added 0-6 before either side put an attempt wide.
Roscommon led by seven points at one stage before Laois rallied with a series of scores, several from the boot of Fitzpatrick and Maggie Murphy.
Late cards to Moore and Murphy gave Roscommon the space they needed to fire over the last three points of the game, sending them through to a semi-final clash with Meath in a fortnight.
Roscommon: L Fleming 1-3, S Brady 0-5 (0-3f), R Finan 1-2 (0-1f), J Cregg 0-4, A Kelly 1-0, J Higgins, J Downey (0-1f) and L Brady 0-1 each.
Laois: E Fitzpatrick 0-7 (0-12), C Conlon 0-6 (0-4f), C Simms 1-0, M Murphy 0-3, E Lawlor 0-2, & L Nerney 0-1 each.
Roscommon: H Cummins; H Ennis, A McLoone, M Kelly; S Bruen, A McAuliffe, S Kenny; J Cregg, J Higgins; A Kelly, R Wynne, L Fleming; N Feeney, R Finan, S Brady.
Subs: R Fitzmaurice for McLoone (50), L Brady for Fitzmaurice (57), J Downey for Brady (59), A Gavin for Finan (62).
Laois: S O’Rourke; C Hughes, M McEvoy, A Kelly; L Nerney, A Potts, A Healy; J Moore, E Galvin; C Simms, C Burke, E Fitzpatrick; C Conlon, M Murphy, E Lawlor. Subs: M Dunne for Simms (51), S Quirke for Hughes (59).
Referee: PJ Aherne (Cork).