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Dramatic second half collapse for Laois as Westmeath defeat sees dreadful 2021 campaign end

Evan O'Carroll

Laois 1-10 Westmeath 3-20
Leinster Senior Football Championship Quarter Final

The Laois senior footballer’s 2021 season has ended without a competitive win as they were well beaten by Westmeath in Tullamore this afternoon.

Mike Quirke’s charges led by a point at half time but a dramatic second half collapse saw them defeated by 16 points in the end.

Laois were competitive in an entertaining first half and actually headed for the dressing rooms with a one point lead.

But Laois looked tired by the end of the half and even though they went down to 14 men when captain Kieran Lillis was sent off after 54 minutes – the game was already over by that stage.

They actually failed to score for the final 30 minutes of the match – their final point being a Colm Murphy score after 43 minutes.

Laois made a great start to the game as although Donie Kingston and John Heslin swapped early frees – they had a goal after six minutes.

A lovely pass from Paul Kingston found Evan O’Carroll on the run and he shrugged off Boidu Sayeh before caressing a shot into the corner of the net.

Westmeath responded well to that set back John Heslin and Ger Egan scoring in quick succession but Laois stayed two clear after ten minutes when Paul Kingston’s long ball was caught and pointed from the resulting mark by Colm Murphy.

Westmeath enjoyed a purple patch after that though and came roaring back to take the lead for the first time by the water break.

Ger Egan and Ronan O’Toole landed a brace apiece while they almost had a goal too when James Dolan came steaming in at the back post and tried to flick a pass across to Lorcan Dolan but just overcooked it.

Westmeath led 0-7 to 1-2 at the water break but Laois instantly drew level on the resumption through two Donie Kingston frees.

John Heslin and Denis Corroon regained Westmeath’s advantage but Eoin Lowry and Kingston squared the game before Westmeath were reduced to 14 men after 30 minutes when Jamie Gonoud was shown a black card for a deliberate pull down on Colm Murphy.

Donie Kingston landed the resulting free but John Heslin’s first score from play levelled the game for the fourth time as we approached half time.

But Laois did take a one point lead to the interval following a Colm Murphy score – 1-8 to 0-10.

John Heslin levelled matters again with a free on the restart. Colm Murphy then missed a relatively straight forward attempt at a mark before Westmeath went ahead after 40 minutes.

Jamie Gonoud was just restored to the field when he became involved in an attack that resulted in Denis Corroon smashing a shot to the net.

Donie Kingston hit back with a free but a brace of Lorcan Dolan points from acute angles, either side of a Colm Murphy score, kept the margin at three after 45 minutes.

Ger Egan landed a brace then to give Westmeath a commanding five point lead at the second water break – 1-15 to 1-10.

And the game was over on the resumption. Westmeath kept the ball for several minutes before eventually a high ball was kicked inside where David Lynch flicked the ball to Lorcan Dolan and was able to run uncontested to to receive the return ball and score Westmeath’s second goal.

Kieran Lillis was then sent off for a second yellow card leaving Laois a man down for the final 15 minutes.

Westmeath really piled it on from there – determined to beat Laois by as much as possible.

James Dolan, Tommy McDaniel and Daniel Giles all pointed before Lorcan Dolan smashed home their third goal.

SCORERS – Laois: Donie Kingston 0-6 (five frees), Evan O’Carroll 1-0, Colm Murphy 0-3 (one mark), Eoin Lowry 0-1 Westmeath: John Heslin 0-5 (four frees), Ger Egan 0-4, Ronan O’Toole 0-3, Denis Corroon 1-1, David Lynch 1-0, Lorcan Dolan 1-2, James Dolan 0-1, Tommy McDaniel 0-1, Darren Giles 0-1

LAOIS: Niall Corbet; Trevor Collins, Seamus Lacey, Gareth Dillon; Danny O’Reilly, Colm Begley, Paddy O’Sullivan; Kieran Lillis, John O’Loughlin; Sean Byrne, Evan O’Carroll, Eoin Lowry; Paul Kingston, Donie Kingston, Colm Murphy. Subs: Mark Barry for Murphy (50), Finbarr Crowley for O’Loughlin (54), Mark Timmons for Byrne (56), Diarmuid Whelan for Lowry and Ross Munnelly for P Kingston (both 56)

WESTMEATH: Jason Daly; Jamie Gonoud, Kevin Maguire, Ronan Wallace; James Dolan, Boidu Sayeh, Sam McCartan; Sam Duncan, Denis Corroon; Ray Connellan, Ronan O’Toole, David Lynch; Ger Egan, John Heslin, Lorcan Dolan. Subs: Jack Smith for Sayeh (ht), Fola Ayorinde for Connellan (47), Tommy McDaniel for Heslin (60), Darren Giles for Corroon (62), Noel Mulligan for Gonoud (64)

Referee: David Coldrick (Meath)

SEE ALSO – #LoveLaois: Abbeyleix Bog Walk – a highly-recommended experience

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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.