After watching his get their Division 2 campaign off to a successful start, Laois manager Brendan Fennelly was pleased to have debuted with a win in his first league game at the helm.
Fennelly’s side were far too strong for a lacklustre Westmeath outfit, as Laois opened up a seven point lead after just ten minutes, and never looked back en route to a comfortable and well deserved 13 point win.
Speaking after the game, the Ballyhale native admitted to being pleased with the winning start, but had no intentions of getting carried away with himself just yet. “Coming to Mullingar, any time, is always a tricky contest.
“We started well and kept the pressure on them, and didn’t really allow Westmeath into the game. They were probably a bit sluggish themselves and they hit a few bad wides there as well, but overall we’d have to be happy, we came to do a job and did it.”
The win sees Laois top Division 2 on scoring difference, but they could, and probably should, have won by a lot more, as poor shooting and poor shot selection let them down at various stages in the game.
While it is still early in the season, such wastefulness may not be rewarded with victories in the future. On the plus side, the full-forward line was showing some good form, in particular John Purcell and John Brophy in the corners, although Fennelly felt both of them, and Neil Foyle at full-forward, were under-utilized. “We missed a few reasonably good chances, I thought our full forward line was very efficient but I felt we didn’t get enough quick ball into our full forward line when they were on top early on.
“I think by half-time our full forward line had scored 1-6 from play, which was very good. We were probably a bit slow, further out the field, to react to that and get the ball into them. We did some silly things but it was our first league game and overall we’d be happy.”
Fennelly also pointed to the three tough games, against UCD, Wexford and KIlkenny, that his side had in the Walsh Cup as important factors in the win, as they helped Laois get up and running earlier in the season, and they looked like they had a lot more work done than Westmeath in this game.
It’s Carlow up next now for Laois, and luckily they had no major injury worries from this game. John Brophy needed treatment on a leg injury sustained in the first half after he got tangled up with Ronan Whelan contesting a ball forward, and although he was withdrawn in the second half, it was merely a precautionary measure.
Noel Costelloe also came through the game unscathed after missing all of last year’s Laois SHC with a virus.