A late penalty from John Mitchels youngster John Gallagher helped Louth overcome Laois in the Leinster Minor Football Championship in Portlaoise – with the win only coming after a period of extra time at O’Moore Park.
The senior team – with some local representation too – had won at the same venue earlier in the year en route to their promotion to Division 2 of the league. Here, a big Ardee contingent helped Wayne Kieran’s side secure a 2-11 to 0-14 win.
Gallagher’s late penalty is what won it for Louth, and the full forward impressed throughout. Just prior to slotting home his spot kick, his free kick pulled the game level. He ended with 1-06 for his afternoon’s work.
Louth may not have even got as far as extra time had it not been for the intervention of St Marys stopper Alan McGauley. He saved a Laois penalty kick 10 minutes before the end of the normal time. At that point, the Wee County trailed by a point. It was undoubtedly a big moment.
Kieran selected three St Marys players – keeper McGauley, Philip Trainor and Liam Jackson in his starting line-up. Reserves Ciaran Keenan and Conor Gillespie would both also get run outs and play pivotal roles in the come from behind win. Keenan entered the fray for Conor Nicholson at the break.
At that stage, Louth trailed a tight affair by 1-03 to 0-07. Mitchels man Gallagher had scored Louth’s first point after a quick Laois start. Jackson left the field of play briefly in need of treatment but soon took his place in midfield as Jack Murphy withdrew. He notched a score while he was on the field. Ben Mooney got the visitors goal.
Gallagher got his second and third points of the game in quick succession after the interval to edge his side in front. Neither side was able to build up any kind of scoring rhythm as the game remained on a knife edge throughout.
Gallagher’ next effort – arguably his best score of the match – left it 1-07 to 0-09. Soon after came McGauley’s penalty save and Gallagher added another before the end of normal time.
Ciaran Keenan’s free kept Louth in touch after – like the first half of the match – Laois roared out of the traps early on in the added period. Gallagher pointed from a 45 to level the game and then he struck his penalty. He made Laois pay by succeeding where they failed.
In the end, Louth ran out 2-11 to 0-12 winners.