PJ Scully’s 17 points help secure Division 1 status for Laois hurlers

Westmeath led by six t half-time but played most of second half with 14 men

Laois’ Ciaran Collier and Aonghus Clarke of Westmeath in action during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 relegation playoff at MW Hire O’Moore Park in Portlaoise. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Laois’ Ciaran Collier and Aonghus Clarke of Westmeath in action during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 relegation playoff at MW Hire O’Moore Park in Portlaoise. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

 

Laois 1-27 Westmeath 0-27

Laois will play Division 1 hurling again in 2022 after surviving an epic battle with Westmeath in O’Moore Park on Saturday night.

PJ Scully helped himself to 17 points as Laois came from six points down at the second water break to eventually reel in a Westmeath side that played more than half the game with 14 men following the sending off of Aaron Craig before half -time.

Having won the Joe McDonagh Cup last week, this was Westmeath’s fourth weekend in a row to be in action, though they showed little effect of that in the opening half as they raced into a 0-18 to 1-9 lead at the interval with Killian Doyle and Niall Mitchell in top form.

While Laois’ shooting had been wasteful in the opening half, their goal was a fortuitous one with Ross King capitalising on a Noel Conaty mistake to fire to the net.

Despite numerical advantage in the second half, Westmeath continued to be the better side in the third quarter and were 0-24 to 1-15 ahead at the water break.

But eventually Laois built some momentum with Scully giving an exhibition of free-taking from all distances and angles.

A couple of fine points from King, Willie Dunphy and Jack Kelly were also crucial but Westmeath could have levelled things up three minutes into injury-time only for Derek McNicholas’s penalty to go over the bar.

Laois will now play in Division 1B in 2022 alongside Kilkenny, Tipperary, Waterford, Dublin and Antrim. Westmeath drop to Division 2 where they’ll have Carlow, Kildare, Kerry, Down and Meath as opposition.

LAOIS: E Rowland; D Hartnett, M Whelan, S Downey; P Delaney, C McEvoy, F C-Fennell; J Keyes, J Kelly (0-2); P Purcell (0-1), C Dwyer (0-3), C Collier; W Dunphy (0-2), PJ Scully (0-17, 10 frees, four 65s), R King (1-2).

Subs: A Dunphy for Collier (29), J Ryan for Whelan (h-t), C Comerford for Keyes (58), E Gaughan for A Dunphy (70), J Lennon for Purcell (73)

WESTMEATH: N Conaty; D Egerton, T Gallagher, C Shaw; A Craig, T Doyle, A Clarke (0-1); C Boyle, R Greville; D Glennon, K Doyle (0-11, seven frees, one 65), J Boyle (0-1); C Doyle (0-2), N O’Brien (0-7), N Mitchell (0-1).

Subs: K Regan (0-1) for C Boyle, J Coll for J Boyle (both h-t), D McNicholas (0-3, one free) for C Doyle (49), S Clavin for Shaw (56), S Williams for K Doyle (70).

Referee: P Murphy (Carlow).

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