Conroy goal the difference for Laois
A 58th-minute goal from Ben Conroy proved to be the crucial score of an entertaining first-round contest in Mullingar on Saturday as Laois squeezed past their hosts by two points.
The visitors started brightly and goals from Joe Campion and PJ Scully helped them to a five-point lead after only six minutes, 2-1 to 0-2.
However, Westmeath rallied well and Killian Doyle's goal in the 22nd minute, together with some weak shooting at the other end, kept the home team well in touch.
At the break, Laois led by 2-6 to 1-8 and the game was right in the mix for the second period.
Westmeath took control of the early stages of the half and Ciaran Doyle pounced for their second goal within two minutes of the restart.
His side were four points to the good at the end of the third quarter -- 2-14 to 2-10 -- during which the score-taking from both sides was of a particularly high standard.
A great strike from a penalty by Charlie Dwyer then brought Laois right back into contention, but it needed Conroy's goal and an injury-time point from PJ Scully to secure victory for the visitors.
SCORERS -- Laois: PJ Scully 1-7 (3f), B Conroy, C Dwyer (1-0 pen) 1-1 each, J Campion 1-0, C McEvoy 0-2 (1f), D Quinlan 0-1; Westmeath: C Doyle 1-5, N O'Brien 0-6 (5f), L Loughlin 0-3, K Doyle 1-0, R Greville, L McGrath 0-1 each.
LAOIS -- E Rowland; D Palmer, P Bergin, A McGowan; C Dunne, C McEvoy, G Dunne; A Corby, C Taylor; D Quinlan, C Dwyer, B Conroy; J Lennon, J Campion, PJ Scully. Subs: A Moore for Lennon (h-t), C Stapleton for Campion (42), D Lynch for McGowan (56), R Delahunty for Quinlan (60).
WESTMEATH -- C Lynch; P Reilly, L Varley, T Egan; K Glennon, T Gallagher, J McGrath; R Greville, E Quinn; L Loughlin, S Clavin, L McGrath; C Doyle, N O'Brien, K Doyle. Subs: D Clinton for Glennon (44), J Egan for Egan ( 60).
REF -- D Harrington (Dublin).