Laois and Westmeath tie dress-rehearsal for McDonagh Cup Final
Joe McDonagh Cup
LAOIS 1-22 WESTMEATH 1-22
By Rory Delaney at O'Moore Park
A late, late free from sub Eoin Gaughan ensured a share of the spoils for Laois and Westmeath in this Joe McDonagh Cup clash in OMoore Park on Saturday.
In what proved to be a dress-rehearsal for the final itself, an entertaining game was played out in Portlaoise, although neither side gave the impression they were playing at full-tilt. Some poor shooting and passing was evident on both sides, but having room for improvement over the next fortnight is no bad thing.
Laois started brightly with a point from Stephen Maher after just twenty seconds, but some wasteful shooting after that would prevent them from opening up a bigger lead.
Westmeath eventually drew level in the fourth minute thanks a 65 from Killian Doyle as Laois kept missing the target at the other end, racking up four wides in the opening eight minutes.
Westmeath made the most of the home sides wastefulness, and Doyle landed another free before Joey Boyle and Robbie Greville helped to open up a three-point advantage. Laois finally got their second score when wing-back Jack Kelly rounded off a good move, and he added another moments later to narrow the gap even further.
That only spurred the visitors into action, and Westmeath soon pounced for the opening goal of the game. Derek McNicholas found Robbie Greville 25 yards out, and he jinked away from Joe Phelan before firing a shot across Enda Rowland and into the top corner.
That score ensured that Westmeath enjoyed the advantage for the rest of the half, although both sides were guilty of poor shooting throughout. Laois narrowed the gap to three five minutes before half time, but Westmeath kicked on again in the closing minutes, with Aonghus Clarkes late point seeing them lead 1-10 to 0-8 at the interval.
The break seemed to allow both teams to improve their accuracy, as they came out after half-time and started registering some fine scores. Laois started brightly, helped by sub Eoin Gaughan who hit two points as they managed to haul themselves level by the 50th minute, 0-16 to 1-13 the score.
With momentum now behind them, Laois pushed further ahead with Mark Dowling picked up a loose ball in the area and shot to the bottom corner, and that set up an exciting finish to the game.
Westmeath knuckled down after that, and with the introduction of Darragh Clinton, started to pose more of a threat in attack. The Delvin man scored 0-4 from play in the closing stages, prompting a comeback from the men in maroon.
They lead by two with time almost up, but Eoin Gaughan came to the rescue for Laois, with two free from the Camross youngster salvaging a draw for the home side.
The teams will now meet again in the Joe McDonagh Cup final in two weeks time, where another cracker surely awaits.
Scorers for Laois: Stephen Maher 0-6 2f, 65, Eoin Gaughan 2f, Ross King 0-4 each, Mark Dowling 1-0, Jack Kelly 0-3, Stephen Bergin 0-2, Matthew Whelan, Colm Stapleton, Enda Rowland f 0-1 each.
Scorers for Westmeath: Killian Doyle 0-10 9f, 65, Robbie Greville 1-2, Darragh Clinton 0-4, Joey Boyle 0-2, Allan Devine, Aonghus Clarke, Ciaran Doyle, Gary Greville 0-1 each.
LAOIS: Enda Rowland; Lee Cleere, Eric Killeen, Joe Phelan; Jack Kelly, Matthew Whelan, Colm Stapleton; John Lennon, Conor Phelan; Ross King, Neil Foyle, Stephen Maher; Mark Dowling, Aaron Dunphy, Stephen Bergin. Subs: Eoin Gaughan for Lennon ht, Aaron Bergin for Dunphy 50, Andrew Mortimer for J Phelan 53, Lorcan Burke for Kelly 59, Ciaran Comerford for Foyle 67
WESTMEATH: Conor Lynch; Darragh Egerton, Tommy Doyle, Gary Greville; Liam Varley, Aonghus Clarke, Paul Greville; Shane Clavin, John Gilligan; Ciaran Doyle, Killian Doyle, Joey Boyle; Robbie Greville, Derek McNicholas, Allan Devine. Subs: Shane McGovern for Clavin ht, Conor Shaw for Egerton 44, Jack Galvin for C Doyle 51, Darragh Clinton for McNicholas 53, Darragh OReilly for G Greville 60, blood sub, Shane Power for P Greville 63
Referee: Patrick Murphy Carlow