Laois 1-16 Wexford 1-28
Walsh Cup Round 1
The Laois hurlers made a losing start to 2022 in Rathdowney this afternoon but they were far from disgraced as they put in a very competitive display against Wexford.
Seamas ‘Cheddar’ Plunkett’s charges were in this one right until Richie Lawlor’s goal in the 44th minute.
The gap was just four points at that stage and although Wexford went on to win by 12 in the end, Laois can take plenty of heart from what was a very spirited display.
Unlike the footballers yesterday, there weren’t wholesale changes from last year but there were still plenty of new faces from last season.
Liam O’Connell, Ben Conroy, Aidan Corby, Frank Flanagan and Ciaran Byrne all started while Cathal Dunne, Jordan Walshe, Ciaran Conroy, Seamus Fitzpatrick and Padraig Dunne all made their debuts from the bench.
The first quarter was where Wexford got away from Laois on the scoreboard and this slow start will be something the management will be hoping to eradicate this year as it certainly hampered the team in 2021.
A Stephen Maher goal early on following some great work by Ciaran Comerford and Ben Conroy levelled the game in the eight minute.
Wexford had fired over three points before that and would add another six by the water break with a Maher free proving to be Laois’s only point in that period.
Laois were lucky not to be further behind too as their visitors hit eight wides in the first 17 minutes – including a missed penalty from the usually reliable Mark Fanning.
But Laois improved in the second quarter and were desperately unlucky not to have a second goal when Wexford keeper Fanning atoned for his earlier mishap to thwart Mark Dowling from close range.
Stephen Maher landed four frees while Ryan Mullaney and Stephen Bergin also pointed from distance.
Billy Dunne, Rory O’Connor and Cathal Dunbar were prominent for Wexford as they took a 0-13 to 1-7 lead into half time.
Laois picked up from where they left off on the resumption – despite making seven changes – as Fiachra C-Fennell, Ben Conroy and Ross King joined the scoreboard.
But the killer blow came in the 47th minute when debutante keeper Cathal Dunne made a brilliant save but the ball fell kindly to Richie Lawlor who slammed it home.
Wexford eased ahead after that and took a 1-20 to 1-11 advantage by the second water break.
It would have been easy for Laois to throw in the towel at that stage but to their credit they didn’t and kept battling away.
Ross King, Jack Kelly and Maher all pointed in the time that remained but Wexford kept well ahead with subs Ross Banville, Harry Kehoe, Paul Morris, Liam Og McGovern and Conall Clancy all pointing.
Up next for Laois is a trip to Kilkenny next Sunday for the final group game of the Walsh Cup.
SCORERS – Laois: Stephen Maher 1-8 (eight frees), Ross King 0-3, Stephen Bergin, Ryan Mullaney, Ben Conroy, Fiachra C-Fennell and Jack Kelly 0-1 each Wexford: Billy Dunne 0-6 (four frees), Ross Banville 0-4 (three frees, one 65), Richie Lawlor 1-0, Rory O’Connor and Cathal Dunbar (one sideline) 0-3 each, Kevin Foley, Paudie Foley (one free) and Conor McDonald 0-2 each, Oisin Foley, Liam Og McGovern, Paul Morris, Oisin Pepper, Harry Kehoe and Conall Clancy 0-1 each
LAOIS 1ST HALF: Enda Rowland (Abbeyleix); Donnchadh Hartnett (Mountmellick), Sean Downey (Ballinakill), Frank Flanagan (Portlaoise); Podge Delaney (The Harps), Liam O’Connell (Rathdowney-Errill), Ryan Mullaney (Castletown); Aidan Corby (Clough-Ballacolla), Fiachra C-Fennell (Rosenallis); Ciaran Comerford (The Harps), Ben Conroy (Slieve Bloom), Mark Dowling (Camross); Stephen Bergin (Clough-Ballacolla), Stephen Maher (Clough-Ballacolla), Ciaran Byrne (Abbeyleix)
LAOIS 2ND HALF: Cathal Dunne (Clough-Ballacolla); Frank Flanagan (Portlaoise), Sean Downey (Ballinakill), Diarmaid Conway (Clough-Ballacolla); Jack Kelly (Rathdowney-Errill), Podge Delaney (The Harps), Ryan Mullaney (Castletown); Conor Phelan (Castletown), Fiachra C-Fennell (Rosenallis); Ben Conroy (Slieve Bloom), Ross King (Rathdowney-Errill), Jordan Walshe (Clough-Ballacolla); Stephen Bergin (Clough-Ballacolla), Stephen Maher (Clough-Ballacolla), Ciaran Conroy (Slieve Bloom). Subs: Seamus Fitzpatrick (Ballinakill) for C-Fennell, Eric Killeen (Rathdowney-Errill) for Downey and Padraic Dunne (The Harps) for Bergin (all 47)
WEXFORD: Mark Fanning; Niall Murphy, Simon Donohue, Conor Devitt; Connal Flood, Paudie Foley, Kevin Foley; Jack O’Connor, Cathal Dunbar; Oisin Foley, Rory O’Connor, Conor McDonald; Richie Lawlor, Oisin Pepper, Billy Dunne
REFEREE: Patrick Murphy (Carlow)