Laois out of O'Byrne Cup after loss to Westmeath

Rory Delaney

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Rory Delaney

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rory@leinsterexpress.ie

Laois out of O'Byrne Cup after loss to Westmeath

Ross Munnelly top-scored for Laois against Westmeath with 1-5.

Laois will take no further part in the O'Byrne Cup, after they fell to a nine point defeat to Westmeath in Stradbally on Sunday.

Laois 1-13

Wesmeath 3-16

That saw them end up ten points down on the aggregate scoring used to separate the teams in their group of two, and so it is Westmeath who will now go on to meet Offaly in the semi-finals.

While the final result was disappointing, it can at least be qualified by the fact that Laois are very much in an experimental phase. Three players - Robert Piggott, Ciaran McEvoy and Aaron Forbes - were starting a first ever game at this level for Laois, while there were also a handful of young and inexperienced players used throughout the 70 minutes.

Laois had started well, with the impressive Eoin Lowry opening the scoring, but they were playing catch-up to Westmeath for most of the game.

Callum McCormack got their first goal in the ninth minute, and that helped them into a 1-9 to 0-6 half time lead, with Ross Munnelly and Lowry evenly sharing Laois' six points.

Westmeath started the second half brightly, hitting the first three points of the half, and it looked like Laois were in for a long afternoon.

McCormack's second goal in the 54th minute more or less settled the game as a contest, but Laois continued to battle hard, and were rewarded with a goal. A strong run forward from midfield by Eoin Lowry ended with him offloading to Ross Munnelly, and he rifled to the net.

However, McCormack brought up his hat-trick, and Westmeath ran out comfortable winners in the end.

Laois now have a three-week gap to the start of the league, and Sugrue and his management team have some big calls to make as they try to whittle down the panel for the upcoming NFL Division 4 campaign.

LAOIS

Scorers: Ross Munnelly 1-5 (0-2 frees), Eoin Lowry 0-5 (0-4 frees), Niall Donoher, Aaron Forbes, Ronan Murray 0-1 each.

Team: Eoin Keogh; Stephen Attride, Shane Nerney, James Kelly; Robert Pigott, Kieran Lillis, Colm Begley; Danny Luttrell, Colm Coss; Ciaran McEvoy, Evan O'Carroll, Niall Donoher; Ross Munnelly, Aaron Forbes, Eoin Lowry. Subs: Chris Finn for Kelly (23 mins), Daniel O'Reilly for Begley (half time), Ronan Murray for McEvoy (46 mins), Aaron Dowling for Luttrell (46 mins), Brian Glynn for Coss (51 mins), Finbarr Crowley for Donoher (57 mins), Sean Moore for Nerney (70 min, BC).

WESTMEATH

Scorers: Callum McCormack 3-3, Luke Loughlin 0-7 (0-2 frees), Kieran Martin 0-3, James Dolan, Finbarr Coyne (free), Alex Gardiner 0-1 each.

Team: Eoin Carbery; John Rock, Sam Duncan, Mark McCallon; James Dolan, Noel Mulligan, Conor Slevin; Alan Stone, Denis Corroon; Nigel Scally, Luke Loughlin, Kieran Martin; Callum McCormack, James Sheerin, John Egan. Subs: Kevin Fagan for Carbery (half time), Alex Gardiner for Rock (half time), Finbarr Coyne for Sheerin (half time), Killian Daly for Slevin (51 mins), Sean Lyster for Stone (55 mins), Gareth Carr for Mulligan (60 mins), Ger Leech for McCallon (60 mins), Boidu Sayeh for Martin (60 mins), Jordan Marshment for Egan (62 mins), Ciaran Shanley for McCormack (62 mins), Tom Molloy for Loughlin (69 mins).

Referee: Fintan Pierce (Offaly)