Purcell finished the game with 3-6, all from play. Pic: Alf Harvey.
A stunning first half performance from Paddy Purcell set Laois on their way to a comfortable Round Robin win over Meath in Navan on Sunday.
Purcell scored a remarkable 3-5, from play, in the first half, as Laois blitzed the home side to set up what proved to be comfortable win in the end. Purcell was undoubtedly the star of the show, but it was a much improved team performance from Laois.
Neil Foyle was excellent at full-forward on his return, while Leigh Bergin, Ciaran Collier, Ross King and Sean Downey all played very well too.
Meath, cheered on by a decent home crowd, had shot into an early lead, as points from Steven Clynch and Sean Quigley gave them an early advantage.
Laois took their time to settle, with Ross King hitting a couple of points to draw them level, as both teams took their time to size each other up. Paddy Purcell had his first sight at goal after that, but his shot was brilliantly tipped over the bar by Shane McGann.
The scores remained close until the 21st minute, when good work from Neil Foyle saw him set Purcell through on goal, and he made no mistake this time with a low finish. Laois powered on after that score, hitting four points without reply as they threatened to overwhelm the home side.
Adam Gannon got a point back for Meath, but then Purcell struck for his third. With the ball breaking to him 25 yards out, he deftly flicked it over his marker before collecting the ball and finding the bottom corner.
Ross King added a point before Foyle set up Purcell once more, and he completed his hat trick with another low shot. Sean Downey added a point, and at half time Laois lead 3-13 to 0-7.
The second half didn't live up to the fireworks of the first from Laois' point of view, with Meath twice getting in for goals to try and force their way back into the game.
Thankfully, Laois managed to wrestle back control of the game, as frees from Ross King, and points from Neil Foyle, Aidan Corby and Aaron Dunphy saw Laois safely home in the end.
SCORERS - Laois: Paddy Purcell 3-6, Ross King 0-11 (0-6 frees, 0-1 65), Neil Foyle, Aidan Corby 0-2 each, Aaron Dunphy, Sean Downey, Ben Conroy 0-1 each.
Meath: Steven Clynch 1-6 (0-4 frees, 0-1 65), Joe Keena 1-0, Shane Brennan, Anthony Forde, Sean Quigley, Mark O'Sullivan, Adam Gannon, Neil Heffernan 0-1 each.
LAOIS: Enda Rowland; Cahir Healy, Leigh Bergin, Dwane Palmer; Matthew Whelan, Ciarán Collier, Lee Cleere; Ross King, Patrick Purcell; Seán Downey, Cha Dwyer, Picky Maher; Willie Dunphy, Neil Foyle, Paddy Whelan. Subs: Ben Conroy for Healy (13 mins, inj), Aaron Dunphy for P Whelan (48 mins), Aidan Corby for Foyle (59 mins), Eric Killeen for Dwyer (62 mins), Stephen Bergin for Maher (66 mins)
MEATH: Shane McGann; Shane Whitty, Sean Geraghty, Cormac Reilly; Shane Brennan, Daragh Kelly, Keith Keoghan; Anthony Forde, Joe Keena; Seán Quigley, Steven Clynch, James Kelly; Gavin McGowan, Mark O'Sullivan, Adam Gannon. Subs: Neil Heffernan for Quigley (HT), Kevin Keena for McGowan (HT), Cathal McCabe for Kelly (58 mins), Peter Farrell for Clynch (59 mins), David Reilly for O'Sullivan (64 mins)
Referee: John Keenan (Wicklow)