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Galway make a steady start

GALWAY 2-22 LAOIS 2-11 JOHN FALLON A LAOIS rally, which produced goals either side of half-time, was once more just a false dawn for their beleaguered supporters at O'Moore Park as Galway eased their way into the 2005 championship with an 11-point win.

Galway will be just glad to have got their campaign off to a winning start, but Conor Hayes and his men will be the first to realise they will need a big improvement if they are to have an extended run.

At times the game was more like a league clash, with loose marking all over the field, but the tempo of the game stepped up to championship mark for a period in the third quarter in front of a crowd of about 2,500.

Galway's superiority was evident at this stage, but with more than half their total coming from placed balls, they never really tore the Laois rearguard open.

Corner-forward Ger Farragher typified Galway's display. He contributed 1-11, half their tally, all but a point came from frees and his contribution from play was minimal.

Laois were given real hope in first-half stoppage time when full-forward Liam Tynan came out to the left-wing to collect a long ball, rounded his marker Shane Kavanagh, and soloed in before flicking to the net.

That left it 2-10 to 1-7 at the break with Laois to enjoy the advantage of the strong wind in the second-half.

In many ways, though, Galway should have been out of sight at that stage, but they did not fully exploit a Laois defence whose marking was appalling.

That was particularly apparent eight minutes from the break when the resilience of Richie Murray, on a cross field run inside halfway, resulted in him spotting full-forward Kevin Hayes blissfully unmarked in front of goal and the Portumna man crowned his debut by taking the pass, rounding Patrick Mullaney and firing home to make it 2-7 to 0-5. Laois were caught napping after 19 minutes. Corner-back Brian Campion was forced to retire injured after fouling Ger Farragher which saw manager Paudie Butler move wing-forward Cahir Healy to the full-back line.

But he had not arrived in his new role by the time Farragher, who had earlier pointed three close range frees, stepped up to the 21 and promptly blasted low into the left corner.

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Laois, who let a bright opening slip against Wexford last Sunday, had no intention of letting Galway out of sight and two points from placed balls, in addition to one earlier from his midfield partner James Walsh and Healy, had the sides level 0-4 each after 15 minutes.

The hard-working Tony Óg Regan landed a free from 100 yards and by half-time added a 65 and two from play amidst some very loose marking around the middle of the field.

The goals should have provided the platform for Galway to pull away, but Tyan's effort just before the break ensured Laois had everything to play for in the second half.

It got much better for Laois just 24 seconds after the restart when captain Tommy Fitzgerald set up Damien Culleton for a goal to reduce the margin to just three points.

But that was as near at they got, for while Fitzgerald and Tynan tacked on points, they were in response to two more Farragher frees.

The next seven scores, in a 16 minute spell, came from Conor Hayes' men with Farragher getting four of them from frees.

SCORERS - Galway: G Farragher 1-11 (1-10f), T Óg Regan 0-5 (3f), K Hayes 1-1, R Murray 0-3, D Tierney, N Healy 0-1 each. Laois: J Young 0-6 (4f, 1 65), L Tynan 1-1, D Culleton 1-0, T Fitgerald 0-2, C Healy, J Walsh 0-1 each

Galway: L Donoghue; D Joyce, S Kavanagh, C Coen (F Healy 48); G Mahon (F Moore 58), D Hardiman, O Canning; T Óg Regan; R Murray, D Forde (N Healy 52), D Tierney; D Hayes (D Donoghue 69), K Hayes, G Farragher.

Laois: P Mullaney; B Campion (P Russell 20, C Brophy 62), P Cuddy, M McEvoy; J Fitzpatrick, P Mahon (J Walsh 65), S Dwyer; J Young, J Walsh; C Coonan (R Jones 58), J Rowney (E Meagher 52), C Healy; T Fitzgerald, L Tynan, D Culleton.

Referee: M Wadding (Waterford)

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