Mitchell tees up shock defeat for Laois
Westmeath 2-21 Laois 1-21
Westmeath produced a late rally to claim a surprise win over Laois in O'Moore Park.
With five minutes left the teams were level, but it was Michael Ryan's side who found an extra gear to drive on and claim victory.
In truth, they should have had the game wrapped up long before then, but finished with nearly 20 wides.
Laois, firm favourites for lift the trophy, were rattled when Robbie Greville scored the opening goal in the seventh minute, but they were level five minutes later thanks to a fine score from Cha Dwyer.
Westmeath were forcing the issue though, and an Aonghus Clarke point had them four ahead in the 20th minute. Laois finally kicked into life after that, and four points on the spin had them level, the pick of them from Ben Conroy.
Cha Dwyer's shot for goal was then brilliantly saved by Paddy Carroll, but Neil Foyle was on hand to tap home a goal. Laois kicked on, and they led 1-13 to 1-10 at half time.
Westmeath got a dream start to the second half when sub Niall Mitchell goaled from close range just 30 seconds after the restart.
Laois kept trying to reel in Westmeath, and eventually drew level with five minutes in the game still to play, but that was as good as it got for the hosts.
Scorers - Westmeath: N O'Brien 0-7 (4 frees); R Greville 1-3; N Mitchell 1-0; A Clarke, C Boyle 0-3 each; E Price, C Doyle 0-2 each; D McNicholas 0-1f. Laois: R King 0-10 (9f, 0-1 65); N Foyle 1-2; C Dwyer 0-4; A Corby, P Purcell, B Conroy, W Dunphy, S Maher 0-1 each.
LAOIS: E Rowland 5; J Phelan 5, L Bergin 5, L Cleere 6; P Lawlor 6, M Whelan 6, E Killeen 6; J Ryan 5, B Conroy 5; C Dwyer 7, A Corby 5, P Purcell 5; R King 6, N Foyle 6, W Dunphy 5. Reps - S Maher 6 for Corby (ht), R Mullaney 6 for Phelan (45), PJ Scully 5 for Dunphy (53), C Taylor 5 for Ryan (55 mins), C Stapleton for Cleere (63, inj), M Kavanagh for Foyle (64, inj).
WESTMEATH: P Carroll 7; S Power 6, T Doyle 6, G Greville 6; L Varley 6, P Greville 6, D McNicholas 6; E Price 7, C Boyle 7; J Gilligan 5, A Clarke 8, J Boyle 5; R Greville 8, C Doyle 7, N O'Brien 7. Reps - A Devine 6 for Gilligan (ht), N Mitchell 6 for J Boyle (ht), B Doyle 6 for Power (43), A Cox for C Boyle (75 mins).
Ref: Patrick Murphy (Carlow).