Brennan blasts team's 'sloppy' performance despite win
Laois 2-24 Antrim 1-19
Laois made it two wins from two in their Joe McDonagh Cup campaign on Saturday, but manager Eddie Brennan was far from happy with his side's performance at O'Moore Park.
The Kilkenny man has enjoyed a positive start to his tenure with Laois but even an eight-point win over a dogged Antrim side wasn't enough to gloss over a "sloppy" performance from the home side.
"I wouldn't be at all pleased with that performance," he said outside the winners' dressing room. "The second half was just careless, sloppy is how we would describe it. To be honest, I don't think it's anywhere near what we can do."
Laois had dominated the first half with captain Paddy Purcell, lining out at full-forward, firing in a goal after six minutes. Antrim were dogged and tried to keep in touching distance, but the game swung in Laois' favour midway through the first half.
Antrim were awarded a penalty for a foul on Neil McManus, but Laois goalkeeper Enda Rowland made a stunning save low to his left. Laois worked the ball down the field and tacked on a point, before Willie Dunphy got their second goal two minutes later. They led 2-13 to 0-9 at half time and did enough to hold off Antrim.
Brennan was particularly disappointed with one aspect of Laois' approach after their win over Offaly the week before. "This was all about a psychological test more than anything else, to say in the space of seven days can you reboot yourself and get really up for this match and treat it as the most important match in the world. So that's what happened and for me there's a lot to work on."
Antrim manager Neal Peden was the happier of the two bosses, despite the defeat. "Coming out in the second half was always going to be difficult but it was about us working, and we worked hard right to the death and that's really positive for us," Peden said. Antrim will be in action again on June 1 against Offaly in O'Connor Park, while Laois have a break before facing Kerry in Tralee on June 8.
SCORERS - Laois: M Kavanagh 0-7 (4f, 2 '65s), C Dwyer 0-5, W Dunphy, P Purcell 1-0 each, E Rowland 0-3f, A Dunphy, J Kelly 0-2 each, J Lennon, M Whelan, E Killeen, S Bergin, R King 0-1 each.
Antrim: N McManus 1-3 (1-2f, 0-1 '65), R McCambridge 0-4, K Molloy, J McNaughton (3f) 0-3 each, C Clarke, E O'Neill 0-2 each, P Burke, D Kearney 0-1 each.
LAOIS - E Rowland; D Hartnett, M Whelan, J Phelan; P Delaney, R Mullaney, L Cleere; J Lennon, J Kelly; C Dwyer, M Kavanagh, E Lyons; R King, P Purcell, W Dunphy. Subs - A Dunphy for Lyons (27), C Phelan for Lennon (45), S Bergin for Delaney (49), E Gaughan for King (58), E Killeen for Cleere (62)
ANTRIM - R Elliott; S Rooney, J Dillon, P Duffin; P Burke, C Boyd, M Donnelly; N McManus, N McKeague; J McNaughton, R McCambridge, K Molloy; C Clarke, C McCann, E O'Neill. Subs - D Kearney for Donnelly (ht), N Elliott for McKeague (ht), M Burke for Dillon (45), E Campbell for McNaughton (45), D McCloskey for McCann (64)
Ref - P Murphy (Carlow)
Doyle puts on a master class to see off Faithful
Westmeath 3-18 Offaly 0-14
Given his experience in the 1994 All-Ireland final, it was understandable that former Limerick goalkeeper and now Westmeath senior hurling manager Joe Quaid would say after Saturday's game in Mullingar: "Even when there was a minute left I didn't care what we were up, we were still playing Offaly"!
However, Offaly hurling is now in a totally different zone to the heady days of the 1980s and 1990s, and the 2019 team was fortunate not to lose by more than 13 points, as the winners struck 15 wides to their opponents' six.
A scoring exhibition by Killian Doyle which yielded 1-10 - 1-5 of it from play, with the goal delightfully set up by his twin brother Ciaran in the 12th minute - helped the home team to a 1-13 to 0-5 lead at the break.
Quaid may well have been thinking back to 25 years ago when Offaly opened the second-half with four unanswered points - three frees and one from play by Kevin Dunne.
He stated: "They got a purple patch after half-time, but Joey (Boyle)'s goal (in the 45th minute) was just superb and it probably blew every bit of confidence out of Offaly."
Westmeath's third and decisive goal was even better than Boyle's solo score, with the outstanding Niall Mitchell feeding Killian Doyle, whose cross was whipped to the net by Derek McNicholas on 52 minutes. At the other end, team captain Aonghus Clarke continued to hurl majestically at centre half-back, while Tommy Doyle produced some marvellous catches at full-back.
Quaid added: "We were going well in training and we always knew that this type of a performance was in the tank. Every one of the lads today did their role to perfection."
Understandably, his opposite number Kevin Martin was struggling to come to terms with the nature of the defeat he had just witnessed.
"I'm bitterly disappointed. I wasn't expecting this type of performance from ourselves. Westmeath were very good and there was a bounce in their step today," he said.
"We got turned over too much in the first-half. We just didn't get a hold on the game at any stage really. Joey Boyle's goal came at the real wrong time for us. You'd just have to say that they were much better than us."
SCORERS - Westmeath: K Doyle 1-12 (6f), D McNicholas 1-3 (1f), J Boyle 1-1, A Clarke, D Clinton 0-1 each.
Offaly: J Bergin 0-9 (6f, 1'65'), K Dunne, M Egan, S Dooley (f), C Kiely, S Kinsella 0-1 each.
WESTMEATH - C Lynch; D Egerton, T Doyle, G Greville; A Craig, A Clarke, P Greville; S Clavin, C Boyle; J Boyle, K Doyle, R Greville; N Mitchell, D McNicholas, C Doyle. Subs: A Devine for C Boyle (h-t), D Clinton for C Doyle (55), C Shaw for Craig (60), D Reilly for K Doyle (64), S Power for R Greville (67).
OFFALY - E Cahill; D O'Toole, N Houlihan, B Conneely; C Gath, P Camon, D Shortt; K Dunne, M Egan; S Dolan, S Dooley, C Egan; C Mahon, J Bergin, O Kelly. Subs: C Kiely for Dolan (26), D Egan for Gath (35), S Kinsella for Mahon (h-t), T Spain for Camon (52), K Connolly for Dooley (55). REF - J Murphy (Limerick).