Leinster SHC: Laois hang on

April 23, 2017

Westmeath Eoin Price with Dwane Palmer Laois during the Leinster SHC game at O'Moore Park Portlaoise.

Laois 1-23 Westmeath 2-17

Laois survived a late scare to make a winning start to their Leinster SHC round-robin campaign at Westmeath's expense in O'Moore Park.

Fortunate to be level at half-time, Eamonn Kelly's charges upped the ante after the restart and had opened up an eight-point lead before two late Westmeath goals made for a grandstand finish. The win leaves Laois in a strong position to qualify from the round-robin series with Meath on the horizon next Sunday, while Westmeath will need to beat Kerry if they're to remain in contention for a Leinster SHC quarter-final place.

Willie Dunphy opened the scoring inside the first minute before Westmeath hit three points on the trot to take control early on. Points from Cha Dwyer and King (free) had the sides level on 0-4 each after 17 minutes before a long-range Paul Greville free restored the visitors' lead. The Lake County were then dealt a blow when they failed to clear a King free that had dropped short, and Paddy Whelan bundled the ball to the net from close range.

Michael Ryan's charges responded with four more unanswered points to lead by 0-9 to 1-4, but a Stephen 'Picky' Maher brace ensured the O'Moore men of parity, 1-8 to 0-11, at the break. 

With King, Maher and Dunphy to the fore, Laois hit eight points without reply on the restart to ease clear. But Westmeath refused to give up the ghost as Robbie Greville netted in the final minute of normal time to bring them back into it. King and Dunphy replied with points before Eoin Price grabbed a second Westmeath goal in the fourth minute of stoppage-time to leave just two points between the sides.

However, King had the final say for the relieved hosts when he converted his eighth free with the last puck of the game.

Laois - E Rowland (0-1f); C Healy, L Bergin, D Palmer; C Collier, C Dwyer (0-2), L Cleere; R King (0-10, 8f, 1'65), P Purcell (0-1); C Taylor (0-1), A Corby, B Conroy; W Dunphy (0-1), S Maher (0-4), P Whelan (1-0). Subs: A Dunphy (0-3) for A Corby, M Whelan for C Taylor, S Downey for B Conroy, E Lyons for C Dwyer, S Bergin for P Whelan.

Westmeath - P Maloney; C Shaw, T Doyle, T Gallagher; G Greville (0-1), P Greville (0-2, 1f), J Boyle; A Clarke, C Boyle (0-1); A Devine (0-5, 3f), D McNicholas (0-1), N Mitchell (0-4); S McGovern (0-1), R Greville (1-1), K Doyle. Subs: E Price (1-0) for K Doyle, D Egerton for J Boyle, N O'Brien for S McGovern, J Galvin (0-1) for C Boyle.

Referee - J Owens.

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