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Laois hurlers bow out of national league race as All-Ireland champions blow them out of the water

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Sean Downey of Laois in action against Conor Boylan of Limerick during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Quarter-Final match between Laois and Limerick at O'Moore Park in Portlaoise, Laois. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

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Laois 0-11 Limerick 2-22
Allianz National Hurling league quarter-final

Limerick were simply on a different level as they defeated Laois in O’Moore Park tonight.

While Limerick are All-Ireland champions on-form, Laois did not help matters for themselves, striking 14 wides in the first half alone.

Laois have not beaten the Treaty side since 1995 – the teams have now played 13 times since then, with Limerick’s carrying off this victory in style.

John Kiely’s men were far stronger physically with a much sharper first touch. As Laois struck four wides in the opening 10 minutes, Limerick hit 1-5 in that time. All six of their forwards contributed points in the opening half.

Limerick were first out of the starting blocks through a Barry Murphy free before a fine run along the left wing by Laois’s Lee Cleere put Laois on board after two minutes.

Centre-forward David Dempsey put Limerick one ahead and from there they waged war.

There has never been a goalless game between the two teams, and Seamus Flanagan ensured it stayed this way as he ripped through the Laois defence after four minutes to slam the sliotar into the back of Enda Rowland’s net.

Peter Casey and captain Declan Hannon struck two more from play for Limerick while Murphy slotted over his second close-range free.

Laois goalkeeper Enda Rowland put Laois’s scoring hiatus on hold when he pucked over a free from the 65′ yard line before denying Limerick’s Murphy of a certain goal chance after 15 minutes.

Robbie Hanley and Seamus Flanagan made it 1-7 to Limerick while the remainder of Laois’s scores in the opening half came from Mark Kavanagh frees.

Laois got back to within six points of the All-Ireland champions before Barry Nash steam rolled through the Laois defence, blowing it wide open for Conor Boylan to grab the second goal of the evening.

Casey, Conor Boylan and Murphy all contributed to make it Limerick 2-11 to Laois’s 0-6 at the interval.

The second half saw Barry Murphy reap the rewards from frees – scoring two and a point from play.

Jack Kelly struck back for Laois with a fine effort from the right-wing over the black spot and over. Kavanagh added his first from play of the evening while Hegarty put Limerick 14 ahead after 47 minutes.

Darragh O’Donovan added an exceptional sideline to increase the lead while Murphy hit over his sixth point after 49 minutes. Flanagan struck his first of the half from the wing to bring his tally up to 1-2 as Limerick led by 16 points on the 55 minute mark.

Conor Boylan scored an excellent point over his shoulder while Laois were aided by slight Limerick inaccuracies in front of the post, gathering seven wides in the second half.

Kavanagh slotted over an enormous long-range free to bring Laois to 11 points after 62 minutes of play. Ryan Mullaney made great strides to get a score for Eddie Brennan’s side but these didn’t come to fruition for the Castletown man.

Murphy kept the frees going over for the Treaty men as they emerged 17 points ahead with three minutes to go. They finished winners on 2-22 to 0-11.

SCORERS – Limerick: Seamus Flanagan 1-2, Conor Boylan 1-0, Barry Murphy 0-8 (0-7 frees), Peter Casey 0-3, David Dempsey 0-1, Declan Hannon 0-1, Robbie Hanley 0-1, Gearoid Hegarty 0-2, Diarmuid Byrnes 0-1 (0-1 frees), Darragh O’Donovan 0-1  Laois: Lee Cleere 0-1, Enda Rowland 0-1 (0-1 frees), Mark Kavanagh 0-7 (0-5 frees), Jack Kelly 0-1, Aaron Dunphy 0-1

LAOIS: Enda Rowland (St Lazerian’s Abbeyleix); Joe Phelan (Camross), Matthew Whelan (Borris-Kilcotton), Donnacha Hartnett (Mountmellick); Lee Cleere (Clough-Ballacolla), Ryan Mullaney (Castletown), Padraig Delaney (The Harps); Jack Kelly (Rathdowney-Errill), Sean Downey (Ballinakill); Aaron Dunphy (Borris-Kilcotton), Mark Kavanagh (Rathdowney-Erill), Paddy Purcell (Rathdowney-Errill); Mark Dowling (Camross), Neil Foyle (Borris-Kilcotton) Stephen Bergin (Clough-Ballacolla) Subs: PJ Scully (Borris-Kilcotton) for P Purcell (blood sub – 28-32 minutes) PJ Scully for S Bergin (45 minutes), Stephen Maher (Clough-Ballacolla) for M Dowling (51 minutes), David Connolly (Ballyfin) for S Downey (59 minutes), A Bergin for N Foyle (65 minutes)

LIMERICK: Barry Hennessy; Tom Condon, Dan Morrissey, William O’Meara; Diarmaid Byrnes, Declan Hannon, Barry Nash; Darragh O’Donovan, Robbie Hanley; Gearoid Hegarty, David Dempsey, Conor Boylan; Peter Casey, Seamus Flanagan, Barry Murphy Subs: Aaron Costello for T Condon (half-time), David Reidy for P Casey (45 minutes), Shane Dowling for G Hegarty (55 minutes), Colin Ryan for Robbie Hanley (57 minutes), Andrew La Touche Cosgrave for D Byrnes (62 minutes)

Referee: Colm Lyons (Cork)

SEE ALSO – Three Laois men hoping to guide their intercounty sides to league glory this weekend