With three counties coming through the qualifiers to join the five first round winners in the quarter-finals, it’s knock-out action from here on in the Electric Ireland Leinster Minor Football Championship.
Meath, Westmeath and Wicklow are the only sides out of contention at present and results to date suggest there is no clear-cut favourite for glory on the 3rd Sunday in July.
Indeed, Meath were one of the sides earmarked as potential champions, only to lose by two points after extra-time to Dublin, and then by a single score against Laois.
Three of the quarter-finals are scheduled for this Saturday, while the Carlow v Wexford game will be the curtain-raiser to the Leinster SFC match between the same counties at Netwatch Cullen Park on Sunday.
Louth v Offaly – Gaelic Grounds, Drogheda on Saturday, 20th May at 3pm
Louth have home advantage against Offaly in Drogheda for what is one of two quarter-finals between unbeaten teams.
The Faithful County started their campaign with a big win away to Wexford in the preliminary round on Easter Monday and five days later accounted for Westmeath at O’Connor Park by 0-13 to 1-4.
Corner forward Cian Johnston hit 2-6 from play against Wexford and followed up with six points against Westmeath. But it’s not a one-man-band up front for the Faithful County and their classy forwards won’t be easily curtailed.
Louth, too, have a spring in their step thanks to a dramatic victory away to Laois at O’Moore Park by 2-11 to 0-15, after extra-time.
A goal from a penalty by John Gallagher finally saw them through, while Ben Mooney hit their opening goal in the first half of ‘normal’ time. Their defence held out bravely to keep a clean sheet and so this could be a ding-dong battle in Drogheda.
Kildare v Laois – St Conleth’s Park, Newbridge on Saturday, 20th May at 3pm
Reigning champions, Kildare welcome Laois to Newbridge on the back of a first round defeat of Carlow. Though the final score was 2-13 to 0-9, it wasn’t until the closing ten minutes that the Lilywhites eventually surged clear, with goals coming from Jack Barrett and David Kelly.
Kildare only led by a point (0-7 to 0-6) at the interval and could face a sterner test on Saturday against a Laois side who feel they have a point to prove.
Many in the O’Moore County felt they didn’t deserve to lose to Louth first time out, but they made amends in the qualifier versus Meath in Navan. Ten minutes in the second half, they trailed by five points, but held their opponents scoreless from then on.
Laois came storming back with scores from Ciaran Comerford, Niall Dunne and eventually the match-winner from top-scorer Diarmuid Whelan, so this poised to be another cracker at St Conleth’s Park.
Dublin v Longford – Parnell Park, Dublin on Saturday, 20th May at 3pm
Dublin looked destined for the back-door when trailing by ten points to Meath at half time in the first round.
Down by 1-10 to 0-3, they were a transformed outfit in the second half and dominated the exchanges. A 56th minute James Doran goal completed their comeback and they forced extra-time, during which Ciaran Archer came up trumps with three points.
With this 1-15 to 1-13 win under their belts, Dublin will look for a more consistent display this time round, as Longford will be ready to capitalise on any shortcomings.
Longford had five points to spare over Wicklow in the first round, and despite the concession of three goals, came through by 1-19 to 3-8.
Ahead by 1-11 to 0-3 at half time, Longford looked on course for a big win, only for Wicklow to fight back with a couple of goals. But to their credit, Longford didn’t panic and fired over six points without reply, with Shane Farrell, Dylan Farrell and Ciaran Reilly answering the call.
Carlow v Wexford – Netwatch Cullen Park on Sunday, 21st May at 1pm
Supporters from Carlow and Wexford are encouraged to arrive early at Netwatch Cullen Park and support their minors ahead of the senior contest at 3pm.
Both these sides deserve credit for bouncing back from first round defeats – Carlow lost to Kildare while Wexford couldn’t cope with Offaly’s fire power.
But Carlow then went to Mullingar and beat Westmeath by 2-12 to 0-17. Like a few other games in this year’s championship, their victory featured a comeback, as they trailed by six points late on.
A Michael Murphy goal gave Carlow a 1-5 to 0-7 interval lead and, after slipping behind, their second goal by Jordan Morrissey and points from Andrew Kehoe and Cathal O’Neill sent them through.
Similarly, Wexford got two second half goals as they came from five points down to Wicklow. The Slaney-siders must have feared the worst at half time when trailing by 3-4 to 0-8, but inspirational goals from Jamie Thomas and Brian Deeney, and top-class points from Jamie Myler, resulted in a 2-14 to 3-7 winning margin.