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Remember the Game: Laois hurlers beat Westmeath to end losing streak and avoid relegation in 2006

Cahir Healy in action for Laois in the 2006 All Ireland hurling championship

Laois 2-15 Westmeath 2-9
2006 All Ireland Hurling Qualifiers

In 2006 the Laois hurlers endured a bad run of form that stretched to ten games without a win by beating Westmeath in an All Ireland Qualifier game in Mullingar, a win that saved them from potentially dropping down to what was then the second tier Christy Ring Cup.

Laois had lost to Offaly in a downpour in Portlaoise in the opening round of the Leinster championship and with the All Ireland Qualifiers split into two groups they then shipped seven goals in 20-point loss to Galway.

There was considerable pressure then travelling to Mullingar as the loser would end up in a relegation playoff against the bottom side in the other group.

But Laois did enough, a Mark Rooney goal helping them to a 1-7 to 1-5 lead at half time and a James Young goal from a close-range free early in the second half gave them some breathing space.

Young would finish with 1-13 to his name (and would be nominated for an All Star that year).

The Laois manager that year was Tipp native Dinny Cahill. “We got the breaks today we didn’t get other days,” he said afterwards.

“Our objective today was just to win the game and we weren’t thinking a whole lot about the opposition.”

The following week Laois hosted Waterford with an outside chance of qualifying for an All Ireland quarter-final.

But despite a spirited showing, Laois were beaten 2-17 to 1-13.

Fifteen years on and the sides meet again in July in a game that will decide who will stay in the top tier, albeit in this instance in the league.

Tomorrow evening in O’Moore Park, Laois host Westmeath in the Division 1 relegation playoff, with throw in at 7.30pm.

SCORERS – Laois: James Young 1-13 (1-8 frees, 0-1 ’65), Mark Rooney 1-1, Michael McEvoy 0-1. Westmeath: Andrew Mitchell 0-7 (all frees), Derek McNicholas 1-1, Darren McCormack 1-0, Barry Kennedy 0-1

LAOIS: Patrick Mullaney; Brian Campion, Pakie Cuddy, John Walsh; Cahir Healy, Darren Rooney, Michael McEvoy; Joe Phelan, Joe Fitzpatrick; Zane Keenan, James Young, Enda Meagher; Damien Culleton, Mark Rooney, Tommy Fitzgerald. Subs: Philip Russell for Keenan (injured – 43), Shane Dollard for Meagher (55), Willie Hyland for Fitzpatrick (60)

WESTMEATH: Mark Briody; Conor Jordan, Christo Murtagh, Paul Greville; Greg Gavin, Darren McCormack, Noel Gavin; John Shaw, Brian Connaughton, Derek McNicholas, Brendan Murtagh, Andrew Mitchell; Barry Kennedy, Daniel Carty, Joseph Clarke. Subs: Enda Loughlin for Connaughton (HT), Brian Smith for Carty (44), Philip Gilsenan for Kennedy (45).

REFEREE: Jason O’Mahony (Limerick)

SEE ALSO – Laois camogie team named for All-Ireland championship opener against Derry

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