Laois 4-13 Westmeath 1-12
Leinster SFC Quarter-final
The Laois senior footballers have a Leinster semi-final in Croke Park to look forward to for the first time since 2008 as they got the better of Westmeath in Tullamore this evening.
It’s the first time in 11 years that they have won two games in Leinster back to back and it continues a very satisfying season under manager John Sugrue.
Two goals from Paul Kingston in a four-minute spell in the second half were the crucial scores as Laois built on a four-point half-time lead to set up a semi-final meeting with Kildare or Carlow in two weeks time. And the same player completed his hat-trick with ten minutes remaining to settle Laois after a brief Westmeath scare.
It was as good a Leinster championship win that Laois have enjoyed since the Micko days and a first win over Westmeath since 1999.
Laois played with the wind in the opening half and played with a two-man full-forward line of Donie Kingston and Ross Munnelly with Benny Carroll dropping deep.
And the tactic of getting it into Kingston worked to a point. Kingston got plenty of ball but despite four scoring attempts in the first ten minutes none resulted in a score. By which stage Westmeath were 0-3 to 0-1 up, after points from a John Connellan free and one each from Luke Loughlin and Ger Egan. Laois’s response was a fourth minute point from Alan Farrell after the two Kingstons had combined.
A Kingston free on 15 minutes after Munnelly was fouled brought it back to a point but Kieran Martin responded straight away for Westmeath and they went three clear when Loughlin banged over a long-range free.
A Munnelly free after Kingston was fouled was Laois’s response and then Paul Kingston made full use of the breeze with a lovely effort from play from outside the ’45.
A turnover from a Laois kickout led to Ger Egan getting his second for Westmeath but again Laois responded – a Munnelly free after Kingston was fouled again and sub Niall Donoher levelled things when he pointed excellently off his lesser-used right boot.
And the Courtwood man then put Laois ahead when he swung over sweet score – this time off his left – and another Munnelly free pushed Laois two ahead after the lively Damien O’Connor was fouled. When Colm Begley clipped over one off the outside of the boot it put Laois three up and Trevor Collins added one just before the break to leave Laois 0-10 to 0-6 up at half time.
It was quite the second quarter from Laois, one that saw them outscore Westmeath by 0-8 to 0-1.
Against the wind in the second half, Laois got off to a good start. A Luke Loughlin free did bring the back to three but Paul Kingston pointed off his left to restore Laois’s four-point lead and then the same player crashed home a cracking goal in the 45th minute after a lovely pass from Colm Begley.
Ger Egan pulled a free back for Westmeath but Kingston soon had his second goal, a slightly scrappy effort after a pass across the square from Donoher. All of sudden Laois were nine points up.
Laois had a goal disallowed for square ball on 56 minutes and then Westmeath got their own moments later. But the dust had barely settled on that score when Laois had their third – and again it was the younger Kingston, again smashing home when a point seemed the more sensible option.
And Laois made sure of the win with seven minutes later when David Conway and Donie Kingston turned over a short Westmeath kickout and Conway set up fellow sub Evan O’Carroll for Laois’s fourth goal.
From there, Laois comfortably saw it out.
Laois will find out their opponents tomorrow when Carlow and Kildare meet and that semi-final will be a double header in Croke Park with the other semi-final on Sunday, June 10.
SCORERS – Laois: Paul Kingston 3-2, Evan O’Carroll 1-1, Ross Munnelly (all frees) 0-3, Niall Donoher 0-2, Donie Kingston 0-1 (free), Alan Farrell 0-1, Colm Begley 0-1, Trevor Collins 0-1, Gary Walsh 0-1 Westmeath: Luke Loughlin 0-4 (two frees), Ger Egan 0-3 (one free), Mark McCallon 1-0, Finbar Coyne 0-2, John Connellan 0-1 (free), Kieran Martin 0-1, Ronan O’Toole 0-1
LAOIS: Graham Brody; Stephen Attride, Mark Timmons, Gareth Dillon; Trevor Collins, Colm Begley, Finbarr Crowley; John O’Loughlin, Kieran Lillis; Alan Farrell, Paul Kingston, Damien O’Connor; Ross Munnelly, Donie Kingston, Benny Carroll. Subs: Niall Donoher for Farrell (22), Evan O’Carroll for Carroll (58), Darren Strong for O’Connor (58), David Conway for Munnely (63) Shane Nerney for Timmons (blood sub, 65), Gary Walsh for D Kingston (68), Denis Booth for Attride (74)
WESTMEATH: Stephen Gallagher; Mark McCallon, Sam Duncan, Jamie Gonoud; John Egan, Alan Stone, Noel Mulligan; Denis Corroon, Darragh Daly; Kieran Martin, Callum McCormack, Ger Egan; Luke Loughlin, Ronan O’Toole, John Connellan. Subs: Finbar Coyne for Connellan (Black Card – 30), Ronan Wallace for Daly (41), Anthony McGinley for J Egan (48), John Heslin for O’Toole (56), Boidu Sayeh for Mulligan (70), David Whelan for McCallon (70)
REFEREE: Padraig Hughes (Armagh)
SEE ALSO – The Laois man in the Westmeath corner