A powerful second half surge saw holders Kildare ease past Laois at Laois Hire O’Moore Park last night to set up a second successive Eirgrid Leinster Under 20 Football Championship final with Dublin next Tuesday.

For the first time in this year’s competition, Kildare had dry conditions and the firm pitch suited them once they overcame some wayward first half shooting.

With their half-back line, and Jack McKevitt in particular, and midfield devouring possession from the long Laois kick-outs and a reasonable wind in their favour, Brian Flanagan’s side should have been further than five points ahead at the interval (0-9 to 0-4).

They shot seven wides in that opening period and could have been out of sight, with corner-forward Eoin Cully perhaps unfortunate to be pulled for over-carrying before Laois goalkeeper Conor Brown collided with him in the goalmouth four minutes before half-time.

That said, Kildare were fortunate enough themselves not to concede more at the other end in the opening half. Goalkeeper Cormac Barker pulled off a fine double save from Cathal Lee and Oisín Hooney and corner back Ben Dempsey might have done better when blazing over from in front of the Kilcullen keeper.

Cully, making his first start of the campaign after promising cameos from the bench, and inside partner Ryan Sinkey were exceptional for Kildare, weighing in with 1-5 and 0-4 respectively and contributing five of the nine points in the opening half.

Laois were far from out of it at half-time, however, with wind advantage to come and the sides shared the first eight points after the interval equally with Adam Fanning nailing two of Kildare’s four after a difficult opening period for the hard-working Clane man.

Midway through the half, Kildare found the breakthrough that gave them breathing space. Pacey substitute Oisín O’Sullivan handpassed across the face of the goal for Shane Farrell to palm across the crossbar and it appeared as if Cully got the final touch from the rebound to provide the visitors with their first goal of the competition in their fourth outing.

Davin McEvoy replied with a point for Laois, but it was all Kildare from that point onwards as they sailed into the distance with seven unanswered points including one each from substitutes O’Sullivan and Killian Browne while wing back James Harris was also on target with a fisted point after a fine pass from O’Sullivan.

KILDARE: Cormac Barker (Kilcullen); Harry O’Neill (Clane), Tomas Von Engelbrechen (Johnstownbridge), Ryan Burke (Caragh); James Harris (Castlemitchell) 0-1, James McGrath (Athy), Jack McKevitt (Naas); Fionn Cooke (Raheens), Shane Farrell (Kilcock) 0-3 (1f); Colm Dalton (Sallins) 0-1, Callum Bolton (Sarsfields) 0-1, Niall Dolan (Raheens); Ryan Sinkey (Naas) 0-4, Adam Fanning (Clane) 0-3, Eoin Cully (Carbury) 1-5. Subs: Oisín O’Sullivan (Clane) 0-1 for Dolan 40, Killian Browne (Celbridge) 0-1 for Bolton 49, Ethan Mountaine (Sarsfields) for Fanning 56, Fionn Ó Giolláin for McKevitt 60, Daire Guerin for Farrell 60.

LAOIS: Conor Brown; Ben Dempsey 0-1, Colin McEvoy, Seán McGrath; Conor McWey, Simon Fingleton, Darragh Slevin; Conor Heffernan, Davin McEvoy 0-3 (3fs); Shaun Fitzpatrick, Oisín Hooney, John Brennan; David Costello 0-1, Jack Byrne 0-2, Cathal Lee. Subs: Tom Fennelly for Brennan HT, Colin Dunne 0-2 (1f) for Lee HT, Stephen Lennon for McGrath 38, Cormac Murphy for Hooney 48, Conor Kelly for Byrne 51.

Referee: Eamon O’Connor (Offaly)

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