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Joe McDonagh Cup: Westmeath cruise to victory

Niall Mitchell scored two first half goals for Westmeath. Photo by Michael P Ryan/Sportsfile

Niall Mitchell scored two first half goals for Westmeath. Photo by Michael P Ryan/Sportsfile

Joe McDonagh Cup

Westmeath 2-26 Laois 0-16

By Gerry Buckley at TEG Cusack Park

Westmeath rounded off a disappointing Joe McDonagh Cup campaign with a comfortable win against finalists Laois in Mullingar.

It was the home side who struck first as Niall Mitchell blasted low to the net following a fine run from David Williams. Laois, having made several changes in advance of their decider with Offaly, played into Westmeath’s hands early on, launching many long balls down on top of the maroon extra man, Tommy Doyle. Points followed from Williams and David O’Reilly to leave it 1-3 to 0-0 with 10 minutes on the clock.

Willie Maher’s side responded with two scores from a Ross King free and Martin Phelan’s well-taken point from the terrace side. Joe Fortune’s team were playing for pride, but showed much more intensity than in their opening losses to Kerry and Offaly. David Williams’ free and following point were swiftly tracked by another Mitchell goal as the Laois defence were caught napping.

The one-way tide continued as seven more scores from Williams (four long-distance frees), Darragh Clinton, Owen McCabe, and Aonghus Clarke to two Laois replies from Lee Cleere and Gearóid Lynch put an unexpected 14 between the sides. Laois fired two wides before Williams, yet again, ended the half with his eighth score from a placed-ball to make it 2-13 to 0-4 at the interval.

Laois used the slight breeze to their advantage upon the restart, outscoring their opponents by seven points to three inside the opening quarter of the half. Ross King splitting his four equally from play and placed balls. Lee Cleere, Willie Dunphy, and substitute James Keyes reducing arrears for the O’Moore County.

Laois lost Padraig Delaney to a straight red card for an off-the-ball incident, but maintained their scoring rate well with King at the heart of most positive aspects. Robbie Greville’s well-taken point from the terrace side kept Westmeath 12 ahead. King then decided to go for goal from a free, only to find Noel Conaty in his way to save. King and Gearóid Lynch saw their two quickfire scores cancelled out by Greville and substitute Killian Doyle.

Westmeath upped the gears again in the final 10 minutes and hit seven points amongst the raft of replacements on either side. David O’Reilly raised two of those white flags, continuing his fine season for the Lake County. Full back Tommy Doyle, David Williams, and the engine of midfield, Peter Clarke, all got in for scores.

Late replies from King and James Keyes brought the deficit down for Laois as the game ticked over to a long-decided concluding full-time whistle. Westmeath end the campaign with two wins as Laois head to the final against midland neighbours, Offaly.

Scorers for Westmeath: D Williams 0-11 (7fs, 1'65'), N Mitchell 2-0, D O'Reilly 0-4, D Clinton, R Greville, K Doyle 0-2 each, A Clarke, P Clarke, K Regan, O McCabe 0-1, T Doyle 0-1 each.

Scorers for Laois: R King 0-7 (5fs), L Cleere, J Keyes, G Lynch 0-2 each, C Comerford, M Phelan, W Dunphy 0-1 each.

Westmeath: N Conaty; C Gaffney, T Doyle, J Bermingham; D Egerton; A Clarke, A Craig; P Clarke, K Regan; N Mitchell, O McCabe, R Greville; D Williams, D Clinton, D O’Reilly.

Subs: C McCormack for Craig (46), K Doyle for McCabe (51), E Keyes for Mitchell (55), M Daly for Regan (60), C Doyle for Clinton (60).

Laois: E Rowland; D Hartnett, R Mullaney, D Conway; L O’Connell, P Delaney, L Cleere; J Lennon, F C Fennell; G Lynch, R King, C Comerford; W Dunphy, M Phelan, S Bergin.

Subs: J Keyes for Phelan (38), J Duggan for Dunphy (41), P Dunne for Conway (44), C Dunne for Bergin (61), B Bredin for O’Connell (65), A Mortimer for Mullaney (68).

Referee: Conor Daly (Kildare).