Laois manager Eamonn Kelly.
Laois manager Eamonn Kelly was wary of his side once again affording the opposition late scoring chances, as Westmeath hit two late goals to almost wreck this Round Robin opener.
With an eight point lead inside the last ten minutes it should have been a formality for Laois from there, but unfortunately that wasn't the case, and Kelly was disappointed that this pattern has been repeated. “It was the same as against Kerry, we're leaving that door open because the stakes are getting higher now going forward, we can't afford to be doing that.
“I hear Meath have turned over Kerry, so that will be a big game next week. They will be on a high, we have a lot of injuries, so we'll have to try and get as many of them as we can sorted and get our feet back on the ground.”
While Laois have their problems, it was at least promising that they could claim the win here despite not being at their best. “It's good to get a result” admitted Kelly. “But you wouldn't be getting too carried away with that performance, particularly in the first half, I thought we were very flat.
“I think the only part I could be happy with at half time was the scoreboard” said Kelly. “Our performance was shocking. We were just very flat, we weren't coming onto breaks, they seemed to have endless time on the ball coming out of the backs, our forwards weren't working hard enough.
"We spoke about it at half time, that if this was the end of the game, how would we feel after giving a performance like that.
"They upped it a bit in the second half, in that middle third of the second half we pushed on with five or six points in a row, but you have to give credit to Westmeath, they stuck to their task and brought it right down to the end.”
This game marked the return of Matthew Whelan, who finally got back on the pitch after struggling to recover from a broken thumb. His return is a timely boost for Kelly and the squad. “It's great, Matthew went through a long process, having to get a pin in his finger, and then when he got it out, it was a lot worse than he thought, so it was a long process to get back, it was great to see him back on the field.”
This big surprise last weekend was Meath's win over Kerry, and it sets up a very enticing clash this weekend in Navan. “I've seen Meath a few times, they are a very honest outfit and they work very hard, and they'll be a huge task for us, it's a huge game for both teams. They have another home game, which is a big thing for them, we're away in our last two matches.