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Eight Talking Points as Laois defeat Antrim for second Joe McDonagh Cup win

Talking Points as Laois defeat Antrim

The Laois senior hurlers continued their perfect start to the Joe McDonagh Cup yesterday afternoon as they saw off Antrim were relative ease in O’Moore Park.

After a great win over Offaly in Round 1, Laois are really motoring now and here we take a more in-depth look at the main talking points from the game.

1 – Man of the match – Enda Rowland 

For the second week in a row, there were a number of fine performances on the Laois team. Ryan Mullaney and Matthew Whelan were very solid in defence while Jack Kelly, Cha Dwyer and Mark Kavanagh scored freely.

But the player who made the most telling contribution, and not for the first time, was the man between the sticks – Enda Rowland.

He had three frees inside his own half which he nailed and he also pulled off two great saves, one in each half in open play. While his defining moment came midway through the first half when he pulled off a full length save to deny Neil McManus’ penalty.

2 – Scoring muscles flexed again 

Laois scored 4-22 against Offaly and they followed that with 2-24 today – a perfect average of 26 scores per game.

Against Offaly, all six starting forwards scored while against Antrim today, 12 of the 20 players who played registered at least one point.

This type of scoring power, and from all over the field, is very impressive

3 – Better defensive shape

Laois looked very open at the back against Offaly but that wasn’t the case against Antrim yesterday. Keeper Enda Rowland did make great saves but the Laois defenders looked far more comfortable in this game.

The full back line in particular, which was under ferocious pressure against Offaly, looked far more assured with Antrim’s only route to goal in the end coming from a 21 metre free.

4 – Laois win a game without almost giving fans heart failure

The Laois hurlers have an awful habit over the last few years of doing things the hard way but this win was very much routine.

First half goals from Paddy Purcell and Willie Dunphy put a big gap between the teams and although Antrim kept trying, they could never get close enough to Laois to really cause them any problems.

5 – The mighty Buff Egan makes an appearance

The Kerry native, who supports the Clare hurlers, travels all over Ireland bringing coverage of hurling matches to his followers on Snapchat.

He captured some great footage of the game on his Snapchat account – more than what you will see on the Sunday Game tonight. If you haven’t already, give him a follow.

6 – Injury free once again

The attritional nature of the Joe McDonagh Cup, and before that the Leinster Round Robin, with big matches coming thick and fast has meant Laois have suffered several injuries in key positions in previous seasons.

However, Eddie Brennan’s charges are now half way through the group phase and they have escaped without picking up any injuries.

If they can keep the squad fit, it will go a long way to helping them to emerge from this competition as champions.

7 – Other Results and how the table looks

The other game played yesterday was a Midlands derby between Westmeath and Offaly – with Westmeath thrashing them 3-18 to 0-14.

8 – What’s Next?

Laois have three weeks off now before their next game away to Kerry on June 8 where a win will almost certainly book their place in the final with one game to go.

There is one game next weekend as Westmeath host Kerry while there is also one game on June 1 as Offaly host Antrim.

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.