Laois 2-24 Antrim 1-19
Joe McDonagh Cup Round 2
Eddie Brennan’s Laois hurlers are a step closer to reaching the Joe McDonagh Cup final after defeating Antrim in O’Moore Park this afternoon.
A strong first half was crucial for Laois as they built up a lead that they could maintain in the second half to see out a very important win.
Keeper Enda Rowland was Laois’s main man as he hit three long range frees and saved a first half penalty – which proved crucial.
With games against Kerry and Westmeath, who destroyed Offaly today, to come. Laois sit at the top of the table.
Laois had the breeze in the first half and they used very well – scoring two goals to take a ten point lead by half time.
Paddy Purcell got their first goal in the opening ten minutes after a long puck-out from Enda Rowland was fielded by the captain on the edge of the square.
Laois were very dominant in the opening half with Mark Kavanagh, Cha Dwyer, Jack Kelly and keeper Rowland all getting in on the scoring act.
Antrim struggled and relied on Ryan McCambridge and Neil McManus for scores but they were given a lifeline at the midpoint of the half when referee Patrick Murphy harsly adjudged Padraig Delaney to have fouled McManus in the area.
The veteran midfielder stepped up but his penalty was brilliantly saved by Rowland with Laois going straight down the other end as Cha Dwyer ended their lead.
Antrim responded with a Keelan Molloy point but Laois soon had the ball in the net again when captain Paddy Purcell turned provider this time for Willie Dunphy who smashed the sliotar to the net.
Antrim ended the half with points from McCambridge and Ciaran Clarke but a late Mark Kavanagh point put Laois ahead by 2-13 to 0-9 at half.
Aaron Dunphy and keeper Enda Rowland extended Laois’s lead on the resumption of play and although McCambridge responded for Antrim, Laois went 12 clear with a Kavanagh free.
McManus and Keelan Molloy (2) hit back for Antrim but Rowland’s third put 11 between them as we entered the closing 20 minutes.
Ryan McCambridge and Ciaran Clarke pointed for Antrim but Mark Kavanagh’s sixth point left it 2-19 to 0-15 after 55 minutes.
Cha Dwyer and Stephen Bergin extended the lead but an Antrim goal after 60 minutes from a Neil McManus from a 21 metre free made things closer for the final stages.
But any chance Antrim had evaporated five minutes from the end when Ryan McCambridge was shown a second yellow card.
Laois saw out the win and now sit safely at the top of the table before their next game against Kerry in three weeks.
SCORERS – LAOIS: Mark Kavanagh 0-7 (four frees, two 65s), Paddy Purcell 1-0, Enda Rowland 0-3 (all frees), Willie Dunphy 1-0, Cha Dwyer 0-5, Jack Kelly 0-2, Ross King 0-1, John Lennon 0-1, Aaron Dunphy 0-2, Matthew Whelan 0-1, Stephen Bergin 0-1, Conor Phelan 0-1 ANTRIM: Neil McManus 1-3 (two frees), James McNaughton 0-3 (three frees), Paddy Burke 0-1, Ryan McCambridge 0-4, Keelan Molloy 0-3, Ciaran Clarke 0-2, David Kearney 0-1, Eoin O’Neill 0-2
LAOIS: Enda Rowland (St Lazerian’s Abbeyleix); Donnacha Hartnett (Mountmellick), Matthew Whelan (Borris-Kilcotton), Joe Phelan (Camross); Padraig Delaney (The Harps), Ryan Mullaney (Castletown), Lee Cleere (Clough-Ballacolla); John Lennon (Rosenallis), Jack Kelly (Rathdowney-Errill); Cha Dwyer (Ballinakill), Willie Dunphy (Clough-Ballacolla), Paddy Purcell (Rathdowney-Errill); Mark Kavanagh (Rathdowney-Errill), Eanna Lyons (Ballyfin), Ross King (Rathdowney-Errill). Subs: Aaron Dunphy (Borris-Kilcotton) for Lyons (26), Conor Phelan (Castletown) for Lennon (45), Stephen Bergin (Clough-Ballacolla) for Delaney (48), Eoin Gaughan (Camross) for King (58), Eric Killeen (Rathdowney-Errill) for Cleere (63)
ANTRIM: Ryan Elliott; Stephen Rooney, John Dillon, Phelim Duffin; Paddy Burke, Conor Boyd, Matthew Donnelly; Neil McManus, Nicky McKeague; James McNaughton, Ryan McCambridge, Keelan Molloy; Ciaran Clarke, Conor McCann, Eoin O’Neill. Subs: David Kearney for Donnelly and Nigel Elliott for McKeague (both ht)
Referee: Patrick Murphy (Carlow)