Laois lose out to Meath in O'Byrne Cup opener

Rory Delaney

Reporter:

Rory Delaney

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rory@leinsterexpress.ie

Laois lose out to Meath in O'Byrne Cup opener

Laois lost out to a clinical Meath display in their O'Byrne Cup opener at a rain-soaked O'Moore Park on Saturday night.

Laois 0-6

Meath 3-11

John Sugrue fielded an experimental line up, and plenty of new players were given a chance to impress, but it was an awful night for football. It was a tough evening for those looking to impress, but they'll get another chance next week against Wexford.

The new rules were in effect for the first time too, with Laois caught out with four handpasses inside of 30 seconds. Overall though the referee wasn't called into action to enforce them too often, in what was a fairly open game. If anything, they resulted in more short kickpassing than normal, but conditions in this game weren't a good platform to judge them on.

The game began in horrendous conditions, and we had to wait five minutes for an opening score. It came from a Gary Walsh free after Eoin Lowry was fouled off the ball, but Meath drew level in the tenth minute with a close-range free from Mickey Newman.

Corner-forward James Conlon edged Meath ahead for the first time after that with a point from the left side, but a lovely Laois move ended with Brian Daly slotting over to tie the scores.

That was as good as it got for Laois in the first half, as Meath hit a rich vein of form after the 20th minute, and they just pulled away. Conlon landed his second point and centre-back Donal Keogan added another within a minute.

Scott Osborne was then forced to make a smart save to deny Adam Flanagan a goal, but Mickey Newman floated over the resulting 45. Daniel Quinn then pushed Meath four ahead with a fisted point from an acute angle, and then came the opening goal.

Laois lost possession in attack and Meath launched a devastating counterattack, which ended with corner-back Ronan Ryan slotting home the opening goal.

Moments later they were in again, as Daniel Quinn's shot was well-saved by Osborne, but the rebound fell kindly for the Meath man, and he tapped home at the second attempt.

Laois had a glorious chance to eat into the deficit moments later when Gary Walsh was found with a delightful ball over the top, but he opted for a point when a goal chance appeared to be there for the taking.

Meath responded with interest before the break, as Newman hit two more frees to see them lead 2-8 to 0-3 at half time.

Laois needed a sprightly start to the second half, but it wasn't forthcoming as Meath comfortably held them at arm's length. Eoin Lowry and David Conway landed good scores for Laois during this period, but they were cancelled out by points from Mickey Newman (free) and Thomas O'Reilly. The latter then fired in a third goal for Meath in the 53rd minute, and that was that in terms of it being a competitive game.

Mark Timmons got a point back for Laois but there was little action after that, as both teams tired and ran in a slew of substitutions, with Meath wrapping up a comfortable win.

LAOIS

Scorers: Gary Walsh 0-2 (0-1 free), Brian Daly, David Conway, Eoin Lowry, Mark Timmons 0-1 each.

Team: Scott Osborne (Portarlington); Adam Campion (St Joseph's), Denis Booth (The Heath), Damien O'Connor (Timahoe); Stephen Attride (Killeshin), Mark Timmons (Graiguecullen), Robert Piggot (Portarlington); John O'Loughlin (St Brigid's), Brian Daly (St Joseph's); Martin Scully (Ballyroan Abbey), David Conway (Arles-Kilcruise), Sean Byrne (Portarlington); Eoin Lowry (Killeshin), Gary Walsh (Ballylinan), Paul Kingston (Arles-Killeen). Subs: Danny O'Reilly (Graiguecullen) for Daly (44 mins), Micheal Keogh (St Joseph's) for Kingston (44 mins), Patrick O'Sullivan (Portarlington) for Piggot (44 mins), Nigel Murphy (Emo) for Conway (50 mins), Darren Strong (Emo) for O'Loughlin (50 mins), Shane Nerney (O'Dempsey's) for O'Connor (50 mins), Richie Hitchcock (Park-Ratheniska) for Campion (64 mins, inj), Brian Byrne (Graiguecullen) for Scully (64 mins), Finbarr Crowley (Emo) for Attride (66 mins)

MEATH 

Scorers: Mickey Newman 0-5 (0-4 frees, 0-1 45), Thomas Reilly, Daniel Quinn 1-1 each, Ronan Ryan 1-0, James Conlon 0-2, Donal Keogan, Darragh Campion 0-1 each.

Team: Andrew Colgan; Seamus Lavin, Bryan Menton, Ronan Ryan; James McEntee, Donal Keogan, Gavin McCoy; Sean Tobin, Adam Flanagan; Daniel Quinn, Darragh Campion, Bryan McMahon; James Conlon, Michael Newman, Thomas O'Reilly. Subs: Niall Hickey for Conlon (25 mins), Graham Reilly for McMahon (47 mins), Conor McGill for Tobin (54 mins), Thomas McGovern for Ryan (56 mins), Niall Kane for McCoy (56 mins), Robert Garry for Quinn (58 mins), Thomas Beakey for Colgan (64 mins), Sean Reilly for McEntee (64 mins)

Referee: Fintan Pierce (Offaly)