Allianz HL D1B: Galway finish strongly
Allianz Hurling League Division 1B
GALWAY 2-18 LAOIS 0-17
By Rory Delaney at O’Moore Park, Portlaoise
Galway picked up their second win of their Allianz NHL Division 1B campaign defeating a stubborn Laois side in O'Moore Park.
For the second week in a row the All-Ireland champions found the going tough as Laois made life difficult for the All Ireland champions.
They lead for long spells of the first half, and were within a score of Micheal Donoghue's team for most of the second as well, until a late flourish from the visitors gave them victory.
After their lacklustre display against Antrim the week before, Galway needed to start strongly to show that was just a once off, and that was exactly what they did. With a little over two minutes played, Davey Glennon won the ball on the left wing and raced through the Laois defence, before offloading to Conor Whelan, and the Kinvara clubman made no mistake.
Laois could have buckled at that stage, but with a strong wind at their backs, they showed a lot of maturity to work their way back into the game. Eric Killeen pointed from the right wing, and then two points in two minutes from captain Ross King brought them back level.
With Galway struggling to find any fluency after their early goal, Laois kept pushing forward and went ahead with King floating over 65.
That finally prompted a response from Galway, and they flexed their muscles a bit as Aidan Harte, Davey Glennon and Padraig Breheny rattled off three points between them in three minutes, as they took control of the game once more.
King lead the Laois revival once more, as he fired over a free and Willie Dunphy scored from play to push Laois into the lead. The home side were starting to get on top in midfield now, but should have been further ahead, with Ben Conroy and Neil Foyle wasting good goal chances.
As the half ticked towards stoppage time, a scuffle broke out in midfield, the result being that Greg Lally given a straight red for Galway, and James Ryan getting a second yellow, and red, for Laois.
That flashpoint suited Galway, and from being three down, 0-10 to 1-4, they scored 1-2 in added time, Whelan again providing the goal, as they lead 2-6 to 0-10 at the interval.
With wind advantage, Galway were expected to pull clear now, but again Laois refused to buckle, even after Galway extended their lead to three early in the half.
Led by the outstanding Ross King, they continued to bring the fight to Galway, who were just about managing to pick off enough scores to stay ahead. Conor and Joseph Cooney were prominent for the Tribesmen.
It fell back on their half-back line a few times to bail them out of trouble, with Padraig Mannion's free taking and Aidan Harte's accuracy from long range resulting in some timely scores.
With Laois unable to provide enough support to King, they eventually ran out of steam, but it was still a commendable effort.
Scorers for Galway: Conor Whelan 2-1, Joseph Cooney 0-4, Padraig Mannion (3fs), Aidan Harte, Conor Cooney (1f) 0-3 each, Davey Glennon, Sean Linnane, Johnny Coen, Padraig Breheny, Shane Cooney 0-1 each.
Scorers for Laois: Ross King 0-12 (8f, 65), Willie Dunphy 0-2, Eric Killeen, Mark Kavanagh, Enda Rowland (f) 0-1 each.
GALWAY: James Skehill; Adrian Tuohy, John Hanbury, Shane Bannon; Greg Lally, Padraig Mannion, Aidan Harte; Johnny Coen, Padraig Breheny; Sean Linnane, Joseph Cooney, Cathal Mannion; Conor Whelan, Conor Cooney, Davey Glennon.
Subs: Brian Concannon for C Mannion (51), Niall Burke for C Cooney (58), Shane Cooney for Linnane (60).
LAOIS: Enda Rowland; Lee Cleere, Leigh Bergin, Donncha Hartnett; Padraig Lawlor, Matthew Whelan, Eric Killeen; James Ryan, Patrick Purcell; Aidan Corby, Ben Conroy, Cian Taylor; Ross King, Neil Foyle, Willie Dunphy.
Subs: Sean Downey for Corby (half time), James Keyes for Taylor (half time), Mark Kavanagh for Conroy (52), Paddy McCane for Foyle (57), Joe Phelan for Bergin (70+1, inj).
REFEREE: Patrick Murphy (Carlow).