Laois 3-22 Meath 0-14
Joe McDonagh Cup Round 5
Brought to you in association with O’Sullivan Motors Roscrea
Back when the fixtures were announced for the new Joe McDonagh Cup competition were announced, there was a confidence in Laois hurling that the last group game away to Meath would be the one that would seal their place in the final and a big day out in Croke Park.
It couldn’t have been any different. Instead Laois lost three of their first four games and went to Navan with the county at a low point and the management team just about hanging on.
But Laois proved too strong for the home side, as captain Ross King, Cha Dwyer and Lee Cleere all came back into the starting team and made a big difference as Laois recorded a vital win.
A loss would have signalled another nadir – and relegation to the third tier Christy Ring Cup. It was an unthinkable prospect.
Instead Laois got the win they needed and Kerry’s win over Antrim in Dunloy means that Laois finish 4th in the table and avoid the playoff against the Christy Ring winners to decide who will play in next year’s Joe McDonagh Cup.
Instead Antrim will play off against the Christy Ring Cup winners – London, Kildare or Derry.
Despite playing against the breeze, Laois were the stronger side in the opening half. Paddy Purcell got the scoring under way early on for Laois and while Meath hit back with the next two to go ahead, Willie Dunphy tied things up with the first of his three first-half points and Laois built from there.
Ross King was on form from frees while Cha Dwyer, Ben Conroy and Neil Foyle all added points too. A goal on the half-hour mark from Dwyer was a crucial score though and at half time Laois led 1-13 to 0-7.
Paddy Purcell got a couple of early second half points to maintain Laois’s lead while Ryan Mullaney, Ben Conroy and Dwyer would add points before a Purcell goal with six minutes remaining sealed the deal.
And Laois got another goal from the very impressive Ben Conroy before the finish to bring his tally to 1-5 and round off an 18-point win
Elsewhere, Carlow’s win over Westmeath mean that those two counties will contest the final on June 30 in Croke Park – and both sides go into the All Ireland series proper where they will face the third-placed team from Leinster or Munster.
SCORERS – Laois: Ben Conroy 1-5, Paddy Purcell 1-3, Ross King 0-6 (four frees, one ’65), Cha Dwyer 1-3, Willie Dunphy 0-2, Eanna Lyons, Neil Foyle and Ryan Mullaney 0-1 each. Meath: James Kelly 0-5, Jack Regan 0-3, Cathal McCabe 0-2, Paddy Conneely 0-2, James Toher 0-1. Steven Morris 0-1
LAOIS: Enda Rowland; Joe Phelan, Leigh Bergin, Lee Cleere; Podge Lawlor, Matthew Whelan, Ryan Mullaney; Paddy Purcell, James Ryan; Ben Conroy, Cha Dwyer, Stephen Maher; Ross King, Neil Foyle, Willie Dunphy. Subs: Colm Stapleton for Ryan, Mark Kavanagh for Ross King, Mark Dowling for Foyle, Eanna Lyons for Maher and Ciaran Comerford for Mullaney
MEATH: Shane McGann; David Conneely, Sean Geraghty, Darragh Kelly; Joe Keena, Damien Healy, Keith Keoghan; Shane Brennan, Alan Douglas; Cathal McCabe, James Kelly, Patrick Conneely; Steven Morris, Adam Gannon, Jack Regan. Subs: James Toher for Healy, Mark O’Sullivan for McCabe, Colm O Mealoid for Brennan, Michael O’Grady for Gannon
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