*Brought to you by Telfords
The Laois hurlers were crowned Joe McDonagh Cup champions in Croke Park today, sending three goals past Westmeath to run out comfortable eleven points victors in the decider.
Laois 3 - 26
Westmeath 1 - 21
Joe McDonagh Cup final
First half goals from Ross King and Aaron Dunphy paved the way for Laois to lead by four points at half-time, and a strong second half saw them pull further clear with substitute Stephen Bergin's goal all but sealing the win.
Mark Kavanagh and Aaron Dunphy were in flying form, Kavanagh hitting twelve points in total while Dunphy finished with 1-4 - his goal an absolute belter.
Westmeath set the tone with the opening score of the game from a Killian Doyle sideline cut, thirty metres out from under the Hogan Stand, but Laois replied emphatically with the first goal of the game after just three minutes. Ross King pounced on the loose ball before rifling past Conor Lynch to send Laois ahead.
Westmeath responded instantly with a Shane Clavin point, and then Mark Kavanagh got his shot on target despite falling backwards as he released. Westmeath got their next with the aid of Hawkeye, Killian Doyle showing great control before sending over.
A good run by Paddy Purcell was finished by his clubmate Kavanagh, and he added his third from the resulting puck out to give Laois a three point cushion. Two more points followed for Killian Doyle, the second of which was a super score.
Mark Kavanagh, John Lennon and Aaron Dunphy trading scores with Doyle and Westmeath captain Aonghus Clarke. Laois got in for their second goal eighteen minutes in when Aaron Dunphy left Paul Greville for dead before releasing a sensational strike into the top left corner.
Westmeath hit back with a goal of their own shortly after, Killian Doyle's drilled effort beating Enda Rowland in the Laois goals. Doyle added a point directly after for the Lake County to leave a point between the sides with twenty-two minutes played.
Aaron Dunphy interrupted the Westmeath scoring with a point having sent one wide seconds previously. Cha Dwyer grabbed his first of the day and Kavanagh sent over his fifth of the half to put three between them.
Killian Doyle and Cormac Boyle exchanged scores with Cha Dwyer and Kavanagh as Laois went in four points ahead at the interval, 2-11 to 1-10.
Westmeath quickly set about reducing their arrears with Allan Devine pointing twenty seconds after the restart, and Killian Doyle nailed a 65 a minute later to leave two points between them. Laois restored the margin to four with Kavanagh hitting a brace, a sixty-five and a free.
Laois got their third goal after forty-six minutes when substitute Stephen Bergin fired low past Lynch after a good run from Purcell.
Killian Doyle sent over two frees and Aonghus Clarke a single for the Westmeath men, but Laois kept the pressure on and pushed further clear with three frees from Mark Kavanagh.
Westmeath kept chipping away at the Laois lead with substitute Ciaran Doyle adding two while Killian Doyle and Joey Boyle posted scores for Joe Quaid's side.
Laois finished strong in the final ten minutes with Eanna Lyons contributing three points from the bench, and Neil Foyle two, as Laois sealed their silverware in Croke Park to be crowned Joe McDonagh Cup champions.
*See Tuesday's Leinster Express Sport for full coverage, reaction and photos
Scorers: Mark Kavanagh 0-12 (0-5 frees, 0-2 65s), Aaron Dunphy 1-4, Ross King 1-0, Stephen Bergin 1-0, Eanna Lyons 0-3, Cha Dwyer 0-2, John Lennon 0-2, Neil Foyle 0-2, Paddy Purcell 0-1.
Team: Enda Rowland (St Lazerian’s Abbeyleix); Lee Cleere (Clough-Ballacolla), Matthew Whelan (Borris-Kilcotton), Donnchadh Hartnett (Mountmellick); Jack Kelly (Rathdowney-Errill), Ryan Mullaney (Castletown), Padraig Delaney (The Harps); John Lennon (Rosenallis), Paddy Purcell (Rathdowney-Errill); Aaron Dunphy (Borris-Kilcotton), Mark Kavanagh (Rathdowney-Errill), Stephen Maher (Clough-Ballacolla); Willie Dunphy (Clough-Ballacolla), Cha Dwyer (Ballinakill), Ross King (Rathdowney-Errill). Subs: Stephen Bergin for Kavanagh (44 mins), Kavanagh for King (48 mins), Eanna Lyons for Maher (55 mins), Neil Foyle for Dwyer (58 mins), Joe Phelan for Kelly (71 mins)
Scorers: Killian Doyle 1-11 (0-6 frees, 0-1 SC), Ciaran Doyle 0-2, Aonghus Clarke 0-2, Cormac Boyle 0-1, Shane Clavin 0-1, Allan Devine 0-1, Derek McNicholas 0-1, Joey Boyle 0-1, Eoin Price 0-1.
Team: Conor Lynch; Darragh Egerton, Tommy Doyle, Gary Greville; Liam Varley, Aonghus Clarke, Paul Greville; Shane Clavin, John Gilligan; Joey Boyle, Killian Doyle, Cormac Boyle; Allan Devine, Darragh Clinton, Robbie Greville. Subs: Eoin Price for Gilligan (33 mins), Derek McNicholas for Clinton (HT), Ciaran Doyle for Boyle (53 mins), Darragh O’Reilly for Devine (66 mins), Aaron Craig for G Greville (69 mins).
REFEREE: Colum Cunning (Antrim)