O'Brien and Price secure the points for Westmeath
A strong finish to the second half saw Westmeath shock Laois in this keenly contested game played at Cusack Park, Mullingar.
Laois, having played with the wind, only led by two points at the break, 0-9 to 0-7, but they added to their lead when Tommy Fitzgerald found the net from close range in the 38th minute.
There was never much between the two sides and Westmeath stayed in touch, with Derek McNicholas proving very accurate from placed balls.
The game really sprung to life in the final quarter. Laois sub Charlie Dwyer scored Laois' second goal to put them ahead by 2-12 to 0-16, but within three minutes Laois were reduced to 14 men when James Walsh received a straight red card.
Westmeath, who had shown great hunger and desire throughout, then gained the upper hand, with Eoin Price and Niall O'Brien both finding the net in the final 10 minutes to win the game for Westmeath.
Man of the match: E Price (Westmeath)
Scorers – Westmeath: D McNicholas 0-12 (7 fs, 2 '65s'), N O'Brien 1-2 (1 f), E Price 1-1, J Shaw 0-2, B Murtagh 0-1. Laois: M Whelan 0-5 (4 fs), S Maher 0-4 (2 fs), T Fitzgerald, C Dwyer 1-0 each, W Hyland 0-2, N Foyle, B Dunne, G Burke (f), PJ Scully 0-1 each.
Westmeath – P Collins 6; T Gallagher 6, A Price 7, M Keegan 5; P Gilsenan 7, C Jordan 7, D Fennell 6; S Power 6, E Price 9; D McNicholas 8, A McGrath 7, R Greville 6; N O'Brien 8, B Murtagh 5, J Shaw 6. Sub: P Fennell 6, for M Keegan (58)
Laois – E Reilly 6; B Stapleton 6, B Campion 7, JA Delaney 5; J Fitzpatrick 6, M Whelan 7, G Burke 6; J Walsh 5, B Dunne 6; S Maher 6, C Healy 8, W Hyland 7; J Brophy 4, T Fitzgerald 6, N Foyle 5. Subs: C Dwyer 7, for B Dunne (h-t), C Dunne 6 for J Brophy (60), PJ Scully 6 for S. Maher (66)
Ref – P O'Dwyer (Carlow)