Laois 1-23 Westmeath 2-17
Leinster SHC Round Robin
A strong second-half performance helped Laois get their Leinster SHC Round Robin campaign off to a winning start in O’Moore Park this afternoon.
There was little to choose between the sides for the first 50 minutes or so but Laois had that extra bit of class and once they upped it a gear in the final quarter, they gave themselves just about enough breathing space to survive a late scare.
Westmeath got off to a bright start and led 0-4 to 0-2 after 10 minutes, Niall Mitchell impressing in attack with two fine points from play while Gary Greville and Alan Devine were also on target. Laois kept in touch thanks to points Willie Dunphy and the first of Ross King’s frees.
Cha Dwyer and King (free) levelled things up and although Westmeath regained the lead, Laois went in front when Paddy Whelan scrambled the ball to the net after a Ross King free dropped short and was fumbled by Westmeath keeper Paddy Maloney.
Westmeath responded well by scoring the next four points but Cian Taylor, King (free) and two from Stephen Maher ensured Laois were level – 1-8 to 0-11 – at the break.
The sides continued to go score for score in the early stages of the second half before Laois hit eight points on the trot to go eight clear with just over 10 minutes remaining.
They looked to be safe but Westmeath refused to give in and two late goals from Derek McNicholas and Eoin Price ensured Laois had a nervous finish.
But Paddy Purcell, Aaron Dunphy and King’s frees was enough for Laois to hold on.
SCORERS – Laois: Ross King 0-10 (eight frees, one ’65), Stephen Maher 0-4, Aaron Dunphy 0-3, Paddy Whelan 1-0, Cha Dwyer 0-2, Enda Rowland (free), Cian Taylor, Willie Dunphy, Paddy Purcell 0-1 each. Westmeath: Alan Devine 0-5 (three frees), Niall Mitchell 0-4, Robbie Greville 1-1, Eoin Price 1-0, Paul Greville 0-2 (one free), Gary Greville, Cormac Boyle, Derek McNicholas, Shane McGovern, Jack Galvin 0-1 each
LAOIS: Enda Rowland (Abbeyleix); Cahir Healy (Portlaoise), Leigh Bergin (Shanahoe), Dwane Palmer (Camross); Ciaran Collier (Camross), Cha Dwyer (Ballinakill), Lee Cleere (Clough-Ballacolla); Paddy Purcell (Rathdowney-Errill), Ross King (Rathdowney-Errill); Cian Taylor (Portlaoise), Aidan Corby (Clough-Ballacolla), Ben Conroy (Slieve Bloom); Willie Dunphy (Clough-Ballacolla), Stephen Maher (Clough-Ballacolla), Patrick Whelan (Borris-Kilcotton). Subs: Aaron Dunphy (Borris-Kilcotton) for Corby (29), Matthew Whelan (Borris-Kilcotton) for Taylor (41), Sean Downey (Ballinakill) for Conroy (49), Eanna Lyons for Dwyer (62 mins), Eric Killeen (Rathdowney-Errill) for P Whelan (66 mins)
WESTMEATH: Paddy Moloney; Conor Shaw, Tommy Doyle, Tommy Gallagher; Gary Greville, Paul Greville, Joey Boyle; Aonghus Clarke, Cormac Boyle; Alan Devine, Derek McNicholas, Niall Mitchell; Shane McGovern, Robbie Greville, Killian Doyle. Subs: E Price for K Doyle (41), D Egerton for J Boyle (55), N O’Brien for McGovern (57), J Galvin for C Boyle (66)
REFEREE: James Owens (Wexford)