Laois 1-22 Antrim 2-23
National Hurling League Division 1B Round 5
Laois are still searching for their first win in 2021 after they were beaten in a highly entertaining affair in Corrigan Park this afternoon.
Antrim built up a big lead in the first half as Laois’s accuracy again let them down – finishing the game with 20 wides.
They will now go in search of their first win when they face Wexford in the Leinster football championship quarter final in two weeks time.
Antrim played with the wind in the first half and they started really well – firing over four unanswered points in the opening ten minutes.
Conal Cunning landed a brace with Eoin O’Neill and Aodhan O’Brien also adding scores.
Laois struggled to build attacks but midfielder Jack Kelly did register their first score and then Ross King knocked over a free after 12 minutes.
Ryan Mullaney responded with an excellent point from inside his own half but their wide tally crept up to six before the water break.
Antrim ended the quarter with a free and a 65 from Cunning to leave them 0-7 to 0-3 at the water break.
Laois’s accuracy continued to desert them and they five four wides, dropped three short and saw a goal chance go into the side netting from Ross King in the following 15 minutes.
Antrim were far more economical on the scoreboard and really got on top of Laois.
Paddy Purcell was Laois’s only scorer in this period as Cunning, Niall McKenna, Sean Elliott and Eoghan Campbell all registered points.
Laois finally found the scoring form in the final stages of the half and reeled off three points in a row.
Ciaran Collier, Jack Kelly and keeper Enda Rowland all registered efforts to cut the gap and leave Antrim ahead 0-13 to 0-7 at half time.
Laois picked up from where they left off with Ryan Mullaney and Ross King making it five scores in a row.
They were thankful for keeper Enda Rowland then as he made a brilliant save to deny Conal Cunning but Eoin O’Neill did score soon after.
Laois kept going though with Jack Kelly, Willie Dunphy and Ross King all scoring to cut the gap to two after 45 minutes.
Conal Cunning landed a brace to settle Antrim and they built on that over the next ten minutes with Ciaran Clarke and Sean Elliott also scoring to leave them 0-18 to 0-13 ahead at the water break.
Laois needed a big final quarter and they made a decent start through Willie Dunphy.
But Sean Elliott kept the gap at five and then extended it to six as we entered the final ten minutes.
Jack Kelly and PJ Scully replied but sub Clarke left five in it with five to go.
Aaron Dunphy responded and then Stephen Maher landed his second but disaster followed for Laois.
Ciaran Clarke burst forward and set up centre back Paddy Burke who rattled the net.
But Laois kept going and Ciaran Byrne combined with Paddy Purcell for a brilliant PJ Scully goal.
Jack Kelly and Conal Cunning traded points to leave two in it but Cunning then added a sideline.
And the home side sealed the in when sub Niall McCormack rattled the net.
SCORERS – Laois: PJ Scully 1-3 (three frees), Jack Kelly 0-5, Ross King 0-3 (two frees), Willie Dunphy 0-2, Stephen Maher 0-2, Aaron Dunphy 0-2, Ryan Mullaney 0-2, Ciaran Collier 0-1, Paddy Purcell 0-1, Enda Rowland 0-1 (one free) Antrim: Conal Cunning 0-9 (two frees, one 65), Paddy Burke 1-1, Sean Elliott 0-5, Niall McCormack 1-0, Eoin O’Neill 0-2, Ciaran Clarke 0-2, Niall McKenna 0-2, Aodhan O’Brien 0-1, Eoghan Campbell 0-1
LAOIS: Enda Rowland; Lee Cleere, Sean Downey, Diarmaid Conway; Stephen Maher, Ciaran McEvoy, Ryan Mullaney; Paddy Purcell, Jack Kelly; Eanna Lyons, James Keyes, Ciaran Collier; Willie Dunphy, Cha Dwyer, Ross King. Subs: John Lennon for Lyons (ht), Conor Phelan for Lennon (50), Donnchadh Hartnett for Conway (55), Aaron Dunphy for Collier and PJ Scully for Dunphy (both 60), Ciaran Byrne for Keyes and Frank Flanagan for Cleere (both 68)
ANTRIM: Ryan Elliott; Damon McMullan, Gerard Walsh, Stephen Rooney; Eoghan Campbell, Paddy Burke, Aodhan O’Brien; Ryan McGarry, Michael Bradley; Niall McKenna, Conor Johnston, Eoin O’Neill; Daniel McClosky, Conal Cunning, Sean Elliott. Subs: Peter McCallin for Johnston (ht), Ciaran Clarke for McClosky (43)
Referee: John Keenan (Wicklow)