GER LOUGHNANE made a winning championship debut in his role as Galway hurling manager at O'Moore Park, Portlaoise, last night.
Although 12 points separated the sides at the finish, the Tribesmen were pushed all the way by a resilient home side in the first round of the All-Ireland SHC qualifiers.
Laois began in impressive fashion with two long-range points from goalkeeper Patrick Mullaney inside his own 45-metre line after four and a half minutes to settle the home team.
Although Niall Healy goalled for Galway in the seventh minute after a blistering shot, and Damien Hayes found the net for a second time three minutes later, the Tribesmen were unable to shake off a determined Laois challenge.
The homesters were strongest before the interval with four unanswered points from James Young, including three from placed balls which ensured Laois held a 1-10 to 2-6 interval advantage.
Laois began the second half well with a pointed free from James Young inside the opening minute and they continued to match the visitors until Galway broke in front in the 49th minute following a fifth point from Eugene Cloonan.
After that, the Tribesmen led all the way.
It was the free-taking abilities of Cloonan, along with good work from defender Ger Mahon, which paved the way for a Galway victory.
Although Galway found the back of the Laois net for a third time thanks to a Damien Hayes goal in the 64th minute to put 10 points between the sides, Laois battled bravely and were unlucky not to get a goal near the end after Young had his penalty shot saved by Galway 'keeper Colm Callanan.
SCORERS - Galway: E Cloonan 0-10 (6f); D Hayes 2-1; N Healy 1-0; I Tannain 0-3; A Kerins, G Mahon 0-2 each; E Lynch, K Broderick 0-1 each. Laois: J Young 1-8 (1-6f); J Fitzpatrick 0-3; P Mullaney 0-2 (2f); T Fitzgerald 0-1.
Laois: P Mullaney; C Fitzpatrick, C Healy, C Dunne; Joe Phelan, M Whelan, M McEvoy; J Fitzpatrick, S Dollard; J Brophy, J Young, JJ McHugh; T Fitzgerald, W Hyland, P Russell. Subs: D McGill for Fitzpatrick (19); B McEvoy for Phelan (48); D Bergin for Russell (62); C Delaney for Hyland (67); B Fitzgerald for McGill (68).
Galway: C Callanan; D Joyce, D Cloonan, D Collins; D Hardiman, J Lee, G Mahon; E Lynch, D Tierney; A Kerins, D Forde, I Tannian; N Healy, E Cloonan, D Hayes. Subs: R Murray for Lynch (HT); K Broderick for Healy (43); K Wade for Cloonan (67).
Referee: D Connolly (Kilkenny).