Laois battle back to salvage draw against Westmeath ahead of Joe McDonagh final rematch
Laois 1-22 Westmeath 1-22
A late, late free from sub Eoin Gaughan ensured a share of the spoils for Laois and Westmeath in this dress-rehearsal for the Joe McDonagh Cup final.
Laois started brightly with a point from Stephen Maher after just twenty seconds, but some wasteful shooting after that would prevent them from opening up a bigger lead.
Westmeath eventually drew level in the fourth minute thanks a 65 from Killian Doyle as Laois kept missing the target at the other end, racking up four wides in the opening eight minutes.
Westmeath made the most of the home side's wastefulness, and Doyle landed another free before Joey Boyle and Robbie Greville helped to open up a three-point advantage. Laois finally got their second score when wing-back Jack Kelly rounded off a good move, and he added another moments later to narrow the gap even further.
That only spurred the visitors into action, and Westmeath soon pounced for the opening goal of the game. Derek McNicholas found Robbie Greville 25 yards out, and he jinked away from Joe Phelan before firing a shot across Enda Rowland and into the top corner.
That score ensured that Westmeath enjoyed the advantage for the rest of the half, although both sides were guilty of poor shooting throughout. Laois narrow the gap to three five minutes before half time, but Westmeath kicked on again in the closing minutes, with Aonghus Clarke’s late point seeing them lead 1-10 to 0-8 at the interval.
Laois were much improved on the restart and spurred on by points from sub Eoin Gaughan and a Mark Dowling goal, they opened up a three-point lead, 1-16 to 1-13.
Westmeath looked in trouble now but the introduction of Darragh Clinton gave them more of a threat up front, and he notched 0-4 from play to see them lead by two heading into the closing stages.
However, Laois managed to hold their nerve and two late frees from Eoin Gaughan saw them snatch a draw deep into injury time. The teams will now meet again in the final in two weeks time.
SCORERS – Laois: S Maher 0-6 (2f, 65), E Gaughan (2f), R King 0-4 each, M Dowling 1-0, J Kelly 0-3, S Bergin 0-2, M Whelan, C Stapleton, E Rowland (f) 0-1 each.
Westmeath: K Doyle 0-10 (9f, 65), R Greville 1-2, D Clinton 0-4, J Boyle 0-2, A Devine, A Clarke, C Doyle, G Greville 0-1 each.
LAOIS: E Rowland; L Cleere, E Killeen, J Phelan; J Kelly, M Whelan, C Stapleton; J Lennon, C Phelan; R King, N Foyle, S Maher; M Dowling, A Dunphy, S Bergin. Reps - E Gaughan for Lennon (ht), A Bergin for Dunphy (50), A Mortimer for J Phelan (53), L Burke for Kelly (59), C Comerford for Foyle (67)
WESTMEATH: C Lynch; D Egerton, T Doyle, G Greville; L Varley, A Clarke, P Greville; S Clavin, J Gilligan; C Doyle, K Doyle, J Boyle; R Greville, D McNicholas, A Devine. Reps - S McGovern for Clavin (ht), C Shaw for Egerton (44), J Galvin for C Doyle (51), D Clinton for McNicholas (53), D O’Reilly for G Greville (60), S Power for P Greville (63)
Ref - Patrick Murphy (Carlow)