Allianz FL D3 Final: Westmeath defeat Laois
Allianz Football League Division Three Final
WESTMEATH 1-13 LAOIS 0-13
By Cian O'Connell at Croke Park
It has been a most satisfactory spring for Westmeath, who collected the Allianz Football League Division Three title at Croke Park.
Ultimately, Westmeath, prompted by the splendid Ger Egan, who mined 1-7, were more efficient ensuring silverware was hoisted.
In January confidence was attained when triumphant in the Bord Na Mona O’Byrne Cup was won too so Westmeath enter the Leinster Championship heartened.
Considering Westmeath didn’t register a score until the 17th minute it was a surprisingly encouraging first half for Jack Cooney’s charges, who led at the interval by 0-7 to 0-5.
Initially Westmeath were encountering difficulty converting chances, but by the time the interval rolled around the statistics confirmed how much they improved as the half wore on.
When referee Jerome Henry blasted the whistle for the break Westmeath were fairly satisfied with a 0-7 from 13 shots return, while Laois reflected on several wasted chances with 0-5 from 15 attempts.
Laois’ physically powerful inside forward line just wasn’t supplied with sufficient possession and while Evan O’Carroll stroked the frees with confidence Westmeath coped.
Eoin Lowry and Donie Kingston were the only Laois players to register scores from play in the opening period, while Westmeath’s fluid attack were that little bit slicker.
Ronan O’Toole dashed about, while John Heslin and Ger Egan also contributed handsomely for the midlanders’, who trailed by two in the sixth minute.
Indeed Westmeath were fortunate that Paul Cahillane dragged a goal effort narrowly wide in the 16th minute following a delicious Kingston delivery.
Relieved to have survived that significant scare Westmeath suddenly started to dictate the agenda with Egan prominent nailing five first half points including two from play.
Still it was delicately poised when the teams returned after the restart with Laois reeling off three points on the spin courtesy of O’Carroll and Kingston (two) to hit the front.
It continued to ebb and flow as Westmeath summoned a burst before Laois responded again with a 50th minute Egan free restoring parity at 0-10 each.
Ronan Wallace ventured forward to clip a fine Westmeath point on 53 as it stayed hard fought the maroon outfit subsequently pounced for a goal.
Laois custodian Graham Brody had left his goalmouth in an attempt to create an overlap, but Westmeath retrieved possession enabling Egan to end the sweeping move with a crafty finish. That was the decisive blow and Laois couldn’t recover.
Scorers for Westmeath: Ger Egan 1-7 (3fs, 1m), Ronan O’Toole 0-2, Kieran Martin, Ronan Wallace, John Heslin, and David Lynch 0-1 each.
Scorers for Laois: Evan O’Carroll 0-6 (3fs, 2 45s), Donie Kingston 0-5 (2fs, 1m), Mark Timmons and Eoin Lowry 0-1 each.
WESTMEATH: Eoin Carberry; Ronan Wallace, Boidu Sayeh, Kevin Maguire; James Dolan, Noel Mulligan, Killian Daly; Sam Duncan, Denis Corroon; Kieran Martin, Ger Egan, David Lynch; Ronan O’Toole, John Heslin, Luke Loughlin.
Subs: Noel O’Reilly for Lynch (66), Joe Halligan for Mulligan (67), Tommy McDaniel for Loughlin (70+1), Darren Giles for O'Toole (70+5).
LAOIS: Graham Brody; Stephen Attride, Mark Timmons, Gareth Dillon; Trevor Collins, Colm Begley, Sean O’Flynn; John O’Loughlin, Kieran Lillis; Eoin Lowry, Conor Boyle, Martin Scully; Donie Kingston, Paul Cahillane, Evan O’Carroll.
Subs: Ross Munnelly for Lowry (48), Benny Carroll for Boyle (48), Brendan Quigley for Lillis (57), Paul Kingston for Cahillane (57), Damien O’Connor for Scully (67).
REFEREE: Jerome Henry (Mayo).