Laois’ first win of the 2012 season came last Wednesday night as two goals from Padraig Clancy put paid to the challenge of Westmeath,
O’Byrne Cup Rd 2
Played on a bitterly cold night, Laois upped their game in the second half to run out deserving winners in the end, with the strong lineup Justin McNulty opted for paying dividends.
Clancy looked a threat all through the game, with Kieran Gavin struggling to contain the big Timahoe man. There were others who impressed too, as Denis Booth looked good for long spells at full-back, with Cahir Healy, Conor Meredith and John O’Loughlin all making positive contributions.
The game was played in testing conditions too, as heavy layer of dew had settled on the field before throw in. It resulted in tricky conditions underfoot and it also made handling very difficult.
On more than one occasion Laois looked to be through on the Westmeath goal only for the player in possession to either slip or lose control of the ball, highlighting exactly how tough the surface was to play on.
It took five minutes for the first score of the game to arrive, with Westmeath’s David McCormack pointing on the turn from 35 yards out. Scores were really at a premium early on as the greasy ball made handling tricky, and on more than one occasion Laois looked to be in on goal only for the player in possession to see the ball slip out of his grasp.
Ross Munnelly eventually opened their account, and the teams remained close for the rest of the half. John O’Loughlin briefly gave Laois the lead, only for Paul Bannon to cancel it out, with MJ Tierney and Padraig Clancy hitting back for the hosts to push them two ahead.
Denis Corroon then split the posts from afar as Westmeath drew level five minutes out from half-time, only for Tierney to hit a brace of frees to nudge Laois ahead again. Westmeath could muster only one more score before the interval, and the teams went in separated by just a point, 0-6 to 0-5.
Laois got an ideal start to the second half as Clancy pointed twice in five minutes, before a storming run from Conor Meredith teed the veteran full-forward up for a goal.
It would prove to be a vital score, as it kept Laois ahead for the rest of the game, with Westmeath never capable of getting within more than a couple of points. Clancy then rounded off the night he ghosted in at the back post to flick home a ball from Cahir Healy for his second goal with a minute to go.
SCORERS – Laois: Padraig Clancy 2-3, MJ Tierney 0-4 (three frees, one ‘45’), Ross Munnelly 0-2 (one free), John O’Loughlin, Colm Begley, Cahir Healy 0-1 each; Westmeath: Ciaran Curley 0-4 (two frees), Kelvin Reilly 0-3 (two frees), David McCormack 0-2, Denis Corroon, Paul Bannon (free), Philip Sheridan 0-1 each
LAOIS: Eoin Culliton; Cahir Healy, Denis Booth, Peter O’Leary; Darren Strong, John O’Loughlin, Padraig McMahon; Colm Begley, Colm Coss; Ross Munnelly, Conor Meredith, Billy Sheehan; MJ Tierney, Padraig Clancy, Ambrose Doran. Subs: Cormac Delaney for Doran (ht), Mark Timmons for McMahon (54), Shane Julian for Coss (57), Emmett Malone for Tierney (60).
WESTMEATH: Gary Connaughton; Jason Lynch, Kieran Gavin, Kevin Maguire; Damien Dolan, Paul Sharry, Doron Harte; Denis Corroon, Paul Bannon; Kelvin Reilly, Callum McCormack, Philip Sheridan; Declan Mullen, Ciaran Curley, David McCormack. Subs: Ronan Foley for C McCormack (8), Michael Curley for Sharry (48), Daly McCormack for Bannon (54), Eoin Gorman for David McCormack (64).
Referee: Anthony Nolan (Wicklow)