Laois clinch victory but Westmeath's interest in final round still alive
Laois 2-12 Westmeath 0-12:O’Moore Park was freezing but out on the pitch these midland rivals produced an entertaining second half that means both will be interested in the final round due to take place on Sunday.
A decent crowd watched two counties that contested a marvellous provincial decider nine years ago and packed Mullingar for an O’Byrne cup final a year later.
In round one Westmeath ran up a comfortable victory over Athlone but Laois lost to Offaly by three points but made wholesale changes for the visit of the Lake County to Portlaoise.
Pat Flanagan made several changes as well but scores were scarce in the opening half but two long range points by MJ Tierney saw the home team in front 0-6 to 0-5 at the interval.
Westmeath opened the scoring when dressing-room replacement David McCormack gave them the lead after five minutes but Laois went in front with points by Ross Munnelly and Colm Begley after fifteen minutes.
Paul Bannon equalised for the visitors but MJ Tierney delivered two great points and another by Padraig Clancy gave the home team breathing space but Westmeath hit back with two great scores by Ciaran Curley the free taker in the absence of sharp shooter Des Dolan.
Kelvin Reilly sent a screamer over the bar in the thirty seventh minute to leave the minimum separating the sides.
Padraig Clancy was the difference in the second half shooting two marvellous goals, the first after 43 minutes when he pulled first time when set up by Conor Meredith.
He sealed victory with his second in the 68th minute after great work by teammate Cahir Healy.
In between Westmeath enjoyed their best spell shooting three unanswered points by Ciaran Curley with a brace and in between Philip Sheridan landed a spectacular effort.
Points by Ross Munnelly and Cahir Healy kept Laois hopes alive ahead of the visit of Athlone IT on Sunday to Portarlington.
Offaly are now in pole position ahead of their game against Westmeath this Sunday.
LAOIS: E Culliton; C Healy (0-1), D Booth, P O’Leary; D Strong, J O’Loughlin (0-1), P McMahon; C Begley (0-1), C Coss; R Munnelly (0-2), C Meredith, B Sheehan; MJ Tierney (0-4), P Clancy (2-3), A Doran; Subs: C Delaney for A Doran (H/T).
WESTMEATH: G Connaughton; J Lynch, K Gavin, K Maguire; D Dolan, P Sharry, D Harte; D Corroon (0-1), P Bannon (0-1); K Reilly (0-2), C McCormack, P Sheridan (0-1); D Mullen, C Curley (0-4), D McCormack (0-2); Subs: R Foley for C McCormack (inj 14m), Daly McCormack (0-1) for P Bannon (55m), E Gorman for D McCormack (59m), M Curley for P Sharry (52m).