Laois take Joe McDonagh Cup and set up preliminary quarter-final shot at Dublin
Laois 3-26 Westmeath 1-21
Eddie Brennan’s first season in senior intercounty management has produced championship silverware as his Laois side consigned Westmeath to Joe McDonagh cup final heartbreak for the second year in a row.
The O’Moore men were pushed hard in an entertaining decider but once Ross King hit the first of their three goals after just four minutes, Laois were never headed.
The first half started brightly and for a period was a shoot out between the two number elevens on the pitch.
Laois’ Mark Kavanagh and Westmeath’s Killian Doyle landed nine of the first ten points of the game between them however it was Brennan’s side that held the advantage from early on after King capitalised on some hesitant Westmeath defending to raise a green flag.
There was some excellent score taking on both sides during the opening quarter but Laois struck for a second goal on 19 minutes. Aaron Dunphy’s brilliant run and finish is a goal of the season contender.
Westmeath trailed by five points at that stage but crucially struck back with a goal of their own when Doyle finished past Enda Rowland after some good work by Aonghus Clarke.
And from there to the interval the teams traded scores with Kavanagh’s sixth point of the half, and Laois’ first point from a free, helping the O’Moore men take a 2-11 to 1-10 lead in at the break.
Joe Quaid’s men kept in touch throughout the game but two points was as close as they got in the second half. And when Stephen Bergin, on as a blood sub for Kavanagh, struck for Laois’ third goal to put five between the sides once more on 48 minutes, it fell like a long way back.
Westmeath kept in touch immediately afterwards but Laois pulled away in the final ten minutes with sub Eanna Lyons grabbing three points to secure Joe McDonagh cup success, a place in the Leinster championship in 2020 and a shot at Dublin in the All-Ireland SHC preliminary quarter final next weekend. Westmeath are set to take on Cork with details of those fixtures expected to be confirmed tomorrow.
SCORERS - Laois: M Kavanagh 0-12 (5f, 1 65), A Dunphy 1-4, S Bergin, R King 1-0 each, E Lyons 0-3, C Dwyer, N Foyle, J Lennon 0-2 each, P Purcell 0-1.
Westmeath: K Doyle 1-11 (6f, 1 sl), A Clarke, C Doyle 0-2 each, S Clavin, J Boyle, D McNicholas, C Boyle, A Devine, E Price 0-1 each.
Laois: E Rowland; L Cleere, M Whelan, D Hartnett; J Kelly, R Mullaney, P Delaney; J Lennon, P Purcell; A Dunphy, M Kavanagh, S Maher; W Dunphy, C Dwyer, R King SUBS: S Bergin for Kavanagh (BS 44-48), S Bergin for King (48), N Foyle for Dwyer (59), J Phelan for Kelly, C Phelan
Westmeath: C Lynch; D Egerton, T Doyle, G Greville; L Varley, A Clarke, P Greville; S Clavin, J Gilligan; J Boyle, K Doyle, C Boyle; A Devine, D Clinton, R Greville SUBS: E Price for Gilligan (33), D McNicholas for Clinton (HT), C Boyle for Boyle (53), E Lyons for Maher (56), D O’Reilly for Devine (66), A Craig for Greville (70).
Referee: C Cunning (Antrim).