Leinster Hurling Championship: Wins for Antrim and Laois
The All-Ireland Hurling Championship began today and there were crucial victories for Antrim and Laois in Leinster.
Goals from either half for PJ O'Connell helped Antrim to a 2-18 to 1-17 victory over Carlow at Dr Cullen Park.
PJ O'Connell scored a goal after seven minutes for Antrim but the sides were very equal and trading scores throughout the opening period and the northerners led by 1-11 to 0-12 at the break.
Antrim had the breeze after the break but Carlow stuck to their task with Denis Murphy and Paul Shiels trading scores.
Antrim finally wrestled control of the game with O'Connell's second goal giving them some breathing space with seven minutes to go.
Marty Kavanagh did hit a late penalty for Carlow to set up a frantic finish but Antrim held on for a four-point win.
Laois recovered from a very shaky start to eventually overcome Westmeath by 1-15 to 1-9 at Cusack Park in Mullingar.
Both sides were guilty of very poor shooting in the opening period and the sides were level at two points apiece with Robbie Greville (2), Picky Maher and Matthew Whelan the scorers.
There was little between the sides until a Derek McNicholas free went straight to the net and Westmeath led by 1-5 to 0-5 at the interval.
The sides were level in the 53rd minute when Stephen Maher found the net for the O'Moore county.
Laois finally started to assert themselves with Willie Hyland landing some vital scores and they ran oout six point winners.