Galway 2-18 Laois 0-17
Allianz Hurling League Division 1B
Brought to you in association with Joe Mallon Motors Portlaoise
When the Laois hurlers travelled to Galway last year in the Allianz Hurling League, an injury-ravaged side were beaten by 26 points.
Since then the Tribesmen have won a first All Ireland in 29 years and Laois have been literally dumped out of the championship – relegated to a new tier for the 2018 championship.
The league is a chance to still rub shoulders with the elite and this evening’s game marked the latest game in a tough run of fixtures that also included jousts with Kilkenny and Limerick.
They put up a mighty performance here against the Liam MacCarthy holders but the unfortunate and controversial sending off of midfielder James Ryan before the break didn’t help and Galway got enough scores in the second half to consign Laois to their second defeat of this campaign.
Laois played with the wind in the opening half but Galway got off to a great start when Conor Whelan fired home a goal in the second minute after great work from Davey Glennon.
Laois hit back well though with fine points from from Eric Killeen and Ross King as well as a free from King. By the seventh minute the sides were level and Laois took the lead when King rifled over a ’65 after Paddy Purcell saw a goal chance go abegging.
Galway responded with points from Aidan Harte, Davey Glennon and Padraig Breheny to regain the lead but Laois battled well and a free from King and a splendid effort from play from Willie Dunphy had them level again in the 18th minute.
King was on form now and he fired over another from play to put Laois back in the lead and they could have had a goal only for a brave James Skehill save on Neil Foyle after good work from King.
A Conor Cooney free again tied things up but as Laois grew into the game they opened a two-point lead coming up to half time thanks to points from King and another screamer from Dunphy.
The game took a serious turn though when both wer reduced to 14 – Galway’s Greg Lally picking up a straight red and Laois’s James Ryan going on a second yellow, although he furiously protested his innocence amid claims of mistaken identity.
A long-range pointed free from Enda Rowland drew a huge roar from the home crowd but Galway got in for their second goal, again from Conor Whelan, and a Padraig Mannion free and a Joe Cooney point had Galway 2-6 to 0-10 up at half time. They scarcely deserved it.
By the 45th minute the sides were level after a string of King frees but Conor Cooney, Sean Linnane and Padraig Mannion nudged Galway ahead.
And while Laois fought gallantly, Galway had enough scoring options to just about get the job done.
For Laois they now have a two-week break before they play Antrim at home. They then have Offaly away before finishing at home to Dublin.
SCORERS – Laois: Ross King 0-12 (seven frees, one ’65), Willie Dunphy 0-2, Eric Killeen 0-1, Enda Rowland 0-1 (free), Mark Kavanagh 0-1, Galway: Conor Whelan 2-1, Aidan Harte 0-4, Conor Cooney 0-3 (two frees), Padraig Mannion 0-3 (two frees), Joe Cooney 0-3, Davey Glennon 0-1, Padraig Breheny 0-1, Sean Linnane 0-1, Johnny Coen 0-1
LAOIS: Enda Rowland (Abbeyleix); Donncha Hartnett (Mountmellick), Leigh Bergin (Shanahoe), Lee Cleere (Clough-Ballacolla); Podge Lawlor (Ballinakill), Matthew Whelan (Borris-Kilcotton), Eric Killeen (Rathdowney-Errill) James Ryan (Rathdowney-Errill), Aidan Corby (Clough-Ballacolla); Ben Conroy (Slieve Bloom), Cian Taylor (Portlaoise), Ross King (Rathdowney-Errill); Paddy Purcell (Rathdowney-Errill), Neil Foyle (Borris-Kilcotton), Willie Dunphy (Clough-Ballacolla). Subs: James Keyes (Colt) for Corby (half-time), Sean Downey for Taylor (half-time), Mark Kavanagh (Rathdowney-Errill) for Conroy (52 mins), Paddy McCane (Rathdowney-Errill) for Foyle (56 mins), Joe Phelan for Cleere (67 mins)
GALWAY: James Skehill; Adrian Tuohy, John Hanbury, Shane Bannon; Greg Lally, Padraig Mannion, Aidan Harte; Johnny Coen, Padraig Breheny; Sean Linnane, Joseph Cooney, Cathal Mannion; Conor Whelan, Conor Cooney, Davey Glennon. Subs: Brian Concannon for C Mannion (50 mins), Niall Burke for C Cooney (59 mins), Shane Cooney for Linnane (60 mins)