Laois blow Antrim away in early salvo
Joe McDonagh Cup: Laois 2-24 Antrim 1-19
Laois secured back-to-back wins in the Joe McDonagh Cup as a strong first-half display set up an eight-point win over Antrim in O'Moore Park.
Laois had wind advantage in the opening half and put it to good use. Goalkeeper Enda Rowland pointed a free from his own 45-yard line, and not long after one of his booming puck-outs found Paddy Purcell, who powered a shot to the net.
Antrim tried to work their way back into the game with points from Neil McManus and Ryan McCambridge, but Eddie Brennan's men were relentless. Mark Kavanagh, Ross King and Matthew Whelan all added frees, before a pivotal few minutes midway through the half.
Antrim were awarded a penalty when Neil McManus was fouled, but his effort from the spot was superbly saved by Rowland, and Laois worked the ball up the field to score a point. A minute later, it got better for the home side when Willie Dunphy rattled in a second goal, and at half-time they were 2-13 to 0-9 ahead.
Laois then stretched their lead out to 13 by the 43rd minute. The Saffrons continued to battle on, with Neil McManus, Ryan McCambridge and Keelan Molloy registering scores for them, before McManus powered a 21-yard free to the net.
However, Neal Peden's men failed to build on that score, and with Ryan McCambridge sent off for a second booking in the 66th minute, they failed to trouble the home side in the closing stages.
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, C Phelan, M Whelan, E Killeen, S Bergin 0-1 each.
Antrim: N McManus 1-4 (1-2f, 1 '65); R McCambridge 0-4; Keelan Molloy 0-3; J McNaughton (fs), E O'Neill, C Clarke 0-2 each; P Burke, D Kearney 0-1 each.
Westmeath 3-18 Offaly 0-14
An impressive Westmeath display put Offaly to the sword in emphatic style at TEG Cusack Park yesterday.
Westmeath totally dominated early on and led by 11 points at the break, with Killian Doyle the pivotal figure at centre-forward. His first touch was classy and he scored 1-10 of Westmeath's 1-13 tally in the opening half.
Good Westmeath pressure led to the first goal after 12 minutes when Ciarán Doyle's pass sent brother Killian through to belt it to the Offaly net.
Offaly looked flat-footed and were not remotely close to the intensity levels traditionally associated with the Faithful County, but in fairness Joe Quaid's Westmeath side were functioning at a high level.
Offaly made a great start to the second half and four unanswered points from Joe Bergin (two frees), Shane Dooley (free) and Kevin Dunne had them back in contention. However, ten minutes in, Joe Boyle latched on to an Offaly clearance and, after a powerful run, unleashed a brilliant shot to the roof of the net.
Westmeath will look to sharpen up on their shooting (they hit 15 wides), but this victory is the perfect start to their championship campaign. For Offaly hurling it's another backward step and a miserable day was compounded when Niall Houlihan picked up a straight red card at the end of normal time.
Scorers - Westmeath: K Doyle 1-12 (6f); D McNicholas 1-3 (1f); J Boyle 1-1; A Clarke and D Clinton 0-1 each. Offaly: J Bergin 0-9 (6f, 1 '65); K Dunne, M Egan, S Dooley (f), K Kiely and S Kinsella 0-1 each.
Sunday Indo Sport