Laois 0-27 Antrim 2-16
Allianz Hurling League Division 1B
Brought to you in association with Joe Mallon Motors Portlaoise
The Laois hurlers have their first win of this year’s Allianz Hurling League Division 1A campaign thanks to a -point win over Antrim in O’Moore Park this evening.
Ross King hit 16 points in a flawless performance as Laois withstood an Antrim side that refused to go away.
Laois welcomed back Cha Dwyer for his first league appearance of the year while Ciaran Comerford from The Harps was handed his senior debut in place of Mark Kavanagh.
Laois had plenty of possession early on but they hit four wides in the first five minutes alone. Dwyer did give them the lead but it was cancelled out by a Neil McManus free and the same player put the visitors into the lead shortly after with his first from play.
A long-range McManus free stretched Antrim’s lead and by the 10th minute they led 0-3 to 0-1.
Another McManus effort from play put Antrim three up but Laois stopped the rot with three really well-struck frees from captain Ross King and the sides were level midway through the half.
Laois built momentum from there with fine scores from play from Dwyer and Neil Foyle swinging the game back in their favour.
King, James Ryan and Comerford all pointed for Laois but Antrim kept in touch with points from McManus, Nigel Elliott and Conor Johnston but Laois finished the half strong with another from King and two monstrous frees from goalkeeper Enda Rowland helping them to a 0-13 to 0-8 lead at the break.
Laois hit five of the first six points of the second half to move nine clear at one stage but Antrim were thrown a lifeline when sub Donal Campbell struck for a goal in the 48th minute.
McManus added a couple of frees and suddenly the gap was back to four.
But Laois weathered that storm and Ross King continued to pop over the frees, Mark Kavanagh slotted a delightful sideline cut and Neil Foyle also got in on the scoring with his second point.
McManus added a couple of frees for Antrim and Nigel Elliott got in for a goal but Laois weren’t to be denied with King bringing his tally to 16 with a late ’65.
They can now look forward to the short trip to Offaly next weekend before finishing up the regular league schedule at home to Dublin the following week.
SCORERS – Laois: Ross King 0-16 (13 frees, one ’65), Cha Dwyer 0-2, Enda Rowland 0-2 (frees), James Ryan 0-2, Neil Foyle 0-2, Paddy Purcell 0-1, Ciaran Comerford 0-1, Mark Kavanagh 0-1 (sideline cut) , Antrim: Neil McManus 0-11 (nine frees), Donal Campbell 1-1, Nigel Elliott 1-1, Conor Johnson 0-1, Neil McAuley 0-1, Maol Connolly 0-1
LAOIS: Enda Rowland; Donnacha Hartnett, Leigh Bergin, Lee Cleere; Podge Lawlor, Matthew Whelan, Eric Killeen; Paddy Purcell, James Ryan; Ben Conroy, Cha Dwyer, Willie Dunphy; Ross King, Neil Foyle, Ciaran Comerford. Subs: Joe Phelan for Killeen (50), Mark Kavanagh for Comerford (53), Sean Downey for Foyle (58), Cian Taylor for Conroy (61), Jack Kelly for Dunphy (65)
ANTRIM: Chris O’Connell; Aaron Graffin, John Dillon, Paddy Burke; Ryan McCambridge, Neil McAuley, David Kearney; Joe Maskey, Conor McKinley; Nigel Elliott, Neil McManus, Donal McKinley; James McNaughton, Conor McCann, Conor Johnston. Subs: Donal Campbell for McCann (half-time), Conor Carson for McNaughton (44), Stephen Rooney for Kearney (46), Gerard Walsh for Maskey (47), Noel Connolly for McKinley (47)
REFEREE: Johnny Murphy (Limerick)