KILDARE caused a shock at St Brendan’s Park in Birr on Monday afternoon by dumping 2010 and 2011 semi-finalists out of the TG4 All-Ireland Ladies senior football championship.
Kildare scored their first championship victory since the 2010 qualifier victory over Down to send the O’Moore County crashing out.
Goalkeeper Mary Hulgraine was inspired for the winners – denying Mary Kirwan with a magnificent save six minutes from time before keeping out a long-range effort from Tracey Lawlor in the final minute.
And Kildare rode their luck too in the second half as Laois sub Aisling Kehoe sent a shot crashing off the upright in the 42nd minute.
And Laois were rocked a minute later when full-back Aisling Quigley received a yellow card and was sin-binned for ten minutes.
That proved crucial as Kildare, with the extra player, reeled off three unanswered points to move 0-11 to 0-8 clear.
Maria Moolick hit a brace of points and Aisling Holton was also on target as the Lilywhites sensed that a famous victory was within reach.
Sarah Quigley cut the deficit back to just two points for Laois, who played against the breeze in the second time, but time ran out and Kildare – who had eight different scorers – booked their place in round 2 of the qualifiers.
The sides were level at half-time – 0-5 apiece – with the first half finishing with Maria Moolick’s shot well saved by highly-rated Laois goalkeeper Caoimhe Dollard.
It wasn’t the only good save from Dollard in the first half as the impressive Portlaoise netminder turned away rasping Moolick drive.
At the other end, Laois had come close to netting in the 16th minute but Eimear Fitzpatrick’s low shot was kept out by Hulgraine, a former recipient of a basketball scholarship to the US.
It was a tit-for-tat opening half which saw the sides level four times, with Laois moving 0-2 to 0-0 ahead in the early stages thanks to points from Alison Taylor and Martha Kirwan.
But Kildare settled and scores from Michelle Carey and Emer Fogarty had the Lilywhites level with 11 minutes on the watch.
Kildare kicked on and were ahead for the first time in the game – 0-4 to 0-3 – in the 19th minute when Aine Gately popped over a free.
But there was little to separate the two sides in an evenly-contested opening half and fittingly, they would go in deadlocked at the break.
Scorers for Laois: T Lawlor 0-3 (2f), Mary Kirwan 0-2f, S Quigley, A Taylor, Martha Kirwan & A Moore 0-1 each.
Scorers for Kildare: M Carey & M Moolick 0-2 each, E Fogarty 0-2f, A Holton, J Timmins, A Gately (f), B Leahy & R Byrne 0-1 each.
M Hulgraine; A Lambe, A Savage, D Tierney; A Holton, D Berry, K Leahy; J Timmins, L Keatley; R Byrne, B Leahy, A Gately; E Fogarty, M Moolick, M Carey. Subs: A Quinn for Keatley, S Hurley for K Leahy, S McHugh for Carey, P Keatley for A Quinn, N Quinn for B Leahy.
C Dollard; S McEvoy, A Quigley, E Healy; J Moore, P Fogarty, L Hyland; M Murphy, A Moore; T Lawlor, Mary Kirwan, A Taylor; Martha Kirwan, S Quigley, E Fitzpatrick. Subs: A Kehoe for Fitzpatrick, S Doogue for Martha Kirwan.
K Delahunty (Tipperary).