Wayward shooting costs Westmeath first championship win in O’Moore Park
Laois hurlers stage second-half rally as visitors reduced to 13 men
Cha Dwyer scored important goal for Laois. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Laois 1-20 Westmeath 1-17
Westmeath arrived in Portlaoise on a high after two impressive results against Carlow and Antrim.
On the other hand, the home team beat Carlow but lost to Antrim, meaning victory yesterday was a must for Séamus Plunkett’s charges.
Westmeath had the wind behind them in the opening half but it was Laois who opened the scoring with a point by Zane Keenan, however, the usually reliable midfielder was off form and hit several bad wides.
Westmeath twice equalised thanks to Robbie Greville and the long serving Brendan Murtagh. The teams were level 0-5 each after 28 minutes and from there to the half-time whistle it was the visitors who dominated but their forwards were guilty of poor shooting that was to cost them dearly.
Niall O’Brien, Greville and midfielder Cormac Boyle fired over great points and on the cusp of half-time the Westmeath goalkeeper made a brilliant save to deny Keenan a goal. At the break, the visitors led 0-10-to 0-6.
When Murtagh hammered home a Westmeath goal two minutes after the restart it looked all over for the home team but they hit back with three unanswered points.
However, two in a row by Derek McNicholas restored the visitors’ six-point advantage.
Laois suddenly found a new gear with Keenan converting two frees, then Ross King landed a point and in the 47th minute substitute Stephen Maher picked out Cha Dwyer and from close range he blasted a great goal.
Niall Dowdall pointed to keep the visitors in front but points from Willie Hyland and Dwyer put Laois ahead entering the final quarter.
Keenan increased the lead to three points before Westmeath were reduced to 14 men when Greville was issued with a straight red card with 13 minutes remaining.
In a further blow, Westmeath were reduced to 13 men when Shane Power received a second yellow five minutes from time.
Westmeath fought back to within a point but three in a row from Laois ensured a quarter-final meeting with Offaly in two weeks’ time at the same venue.