Neighbouring counties Laois and Offaly have set up a unique pairing in next weekend's Leinster Minor hurling championship final.
Laois shocked Kilkenny this afternoon in Portlaoise. The O'Moore county haven't reached a Leinster final at this level since 2013 and will be hoping to lift the title for the first time since 1964.
The home side started brightly nailing three placed early on courtesy of Ben Deegan. Kilkenny replied with two frees of their own with Aaron McEvoy leaving the minimum between the sides. Soon after that Ben Deegan put Laois back in front by two points.
The sides were nip and tuck throughout the first half as Laois held a slender one point advantage approaching half-time. Jer Quinlan goaled for the victors to have them leading 1-06 - 0-06 at the interval.
@ElectricIreland Leinster Minor Hurling Championship Semi-Final
Laois 1-15 (18)
Kilkenny 0-15 (15)
What a performance from our Minor hurlers to book their place in the Leinster Final!!!
— Laois GAA (@CLGLaois) May 7, 2022
Declan Qualter's side didn't take their foot off the gas after the break with Quinlan, Ben Deegan and Cormac Byrne were off the mark extending their lead to six points. On 42 minutes the scores were at 1-11 - 0-09.
The Cats knew a shock was on the cards and significantly raised their intensity levels, leaving a point between the sides late on after Mikey Stynes, Eoghan Lyng (free) and Ivan Bolger registered points meaning Laois led 1-13 - 0-15.
Two high pressures frees from Ben Deegan showed his composure to secure a historic victory for Laois and their first victory over Kilkenny at this grade since 1974.
Earlier today, Offaly produced a ruthless performance to defeat Dublin by nine points. Dublin started the better after goal from Ruan O'Connor to put them 1-04 - 0-4 ahead after eight minutes. Soon after that the Faithful County took control of the game with goals from Adam Screeney and Dan Ravenhill putting Offaly into the ascendency leading 2-11 - 1-09 at the break.
Super result for Offaly Minor hurlers in O'Connor Park
Well done to all the players and management
Leinster final v Laois next Saturday
— Official Offaly GAA (@Offaly_GAA) May 7, 2022
Screeney added his second goal of the day as last year's Leinster finalists hung on for a comfortable victory in the end.
Offaly will be hoping to go one step further than last year and claim the Leinster MHC tile for first time since 2000.
The final will be broadcasted live on TG4 next Saturday. A fascinating battle awaits on the sideline with Derek McGrath, who is a coach of this Laois team and former Offaly hurler Johnny Pilkington involved with Offaly.
Laois 1-15 - 0-15 Kilkenny
Offaly 3-18 - 1-15 Dublin