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07th May 2022

Buff Egan calls it as Laois skin the Cats in O’Moore Park

Niall McIntyre

The Laois minor hurlers had a famous win on Saturday afternoon.

They’re after sending shock-waves throughout Leinster. That’s because, having beaten Kilkenny for the first time since 1974, they’ve lifted a county, they’ve blown a competition wide open and they’ve recorded a victory that will live long in the memory.

It would be fair to call what went on in O’Moore Park today one of the shocks of the season because, like Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, like Willie Mullins on a racetrack, Kilkenny are dominant here and they have been for years. Since the turn of the millennium, the Cats have won 14 of a possible 22 provincial titles but on a beautiful day on Father Browne Avenue, Laois just didn’t give a damn about tradition.

There was a hint of revolution in the air and Buff Egan sensed it at the very start. That effervescent gem of an all-weather hurling follower pulled out a trademark ‘shoosh’ when, before the game, it was suggested to him that Kilkenny would walk away with it and he was on the money. Camross sharp-shooter Ben Deegan sealed the deal for Declan Qualter’s side with a late, great free but in truth, they had any number of match-winners.

Borris-Kilcotton full forward Jer Quinlan was arguably the star of the show and it was in the first half when his well-taken goal gave the team the belief and the buffer they needed. Tom Cuddy and Thomas Brennan roared into the game in the second half and while Kilkenny, as ever, refused to lie down, they never looked like catching what was a sharper and slicker team.

Indeed, it would have been a travesty if Eoghan Lyng’s late-free levelled things up because Laois were full value for their 1-15 to 0-15 win.

Afterwards, and on the back of some demoralising beatings for their seniors in recent weeks, there were scenes of utter jubilation in the ground. It wasn’t quite at the same scale as their famous win over Dublin here in 2019 but it wasn’t far off.

A highly rated Offaly side defeated Dublin in the other semi-final earlier in the day and that 3-18 to 1-15 win sets the neighbours up for their first ever Leinster final meeting in the coming weeks. That’ll be some occasion but it will do well to top this one.