Laois 1-16 Antrim 0-17
Allianz Hurling League Division 1B Relegation Playoff
The Laois hurlers will play in Division 1B of the Allianz Hurling League once again in 2019 after narrowly surviving a relegation playoff against Antrim in Dunloy.
On a day when the latest snow storm wiped out most of the sporting fixtures, Laois’s game against Antrim did go ahead. With hardly any snow in the north of the country, the game in Dunloy was never in doubt, although Laois were lucky they had made the trip the night before the game as driving conditions on Sunday were treacherous.
It was bitterly cold in Dunloy alright and there was little to separate the sides throughout. Antrim took an early 0-3 to 0-1 lead thanks to Neil McManus and Michael Armstrong but Laois kept in touch throughout the opening half.
Ross King, Cha Dwyer, Ben Conroy, Paddy Purcell and Willie Dunphy all pointed while Purcell also got in for the game’s first goal to put Laois 1-6 to 0-6 up. Indeed Stephen Bergin was unlucky not to have had a goal also as his effort moments earlier came back off the crossbar.
Purcell’s goal gave Laois a bit of breathing space and at half time they led 1-9 to 0-7.
Backed by a good home support, Antrim battled on well in the second half and with Conor Johnston, James McNaughton, Paddy Burke and Eoghan Campbell all on target, Antrim got their noses in front.
But Laois weren’t to be denied and a string of points from King – who was once again in double figures – helped Laois get over the line.
The latest playoff win means it’s the fourth year in a row that Laois have stayed up in that manner.
And their next competitive game is away to Antrim in the opening round of the new Tier 2 Joe McDonagh Cup championship in May.
LAOIS: Enda Rowland; Joe Phelan, Leigh Bergin, Lee Cleere; James Ryan, Matthew Whelan, Podge Lawlor; Paddy Purcell, Ben Conroy; Willie Dunphy, Cha Dwyer, PJ Scully; Ross King, Neil Foyle, Stephen Bergin. Subs used: Aidan Corby, Ciaran Comerford, Mark Kavanagh
ANTRIM: Ryan Elliott; Aaron Graffin, John Dillon, Ryan McCambridge; Joe Maskey, Conor McKinley, Paddy Burke; Eoghan Campbell, Ger Walsh; Conor Johnston, Neil McManus, Michael Armstrong; Donal McKinley, Conor McCann, Nigel Elliott.