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Scully hits a record score as Laois come from behind to beat Westmeath

PJ Scully scored 17 points – the most by a Laois hurler in a league match – as Laois stay up in Division 1 of the Allianz HL.

Image: Lorraine O’Sullivan/INPHO

Laois 1-27

Westmeath 0-27

Shane Keegan reports

A LEAGUE RELEGATION decider in Portlaoise between two sides coming in off the back of impressive performances last weekend was always going to be tough game to call, and so it proved with this one going right down to the wire.

Laois got off to a great start pointing the first three scores of the match with Charles Dwyer featuring prominently in all their good play. They could have stretched their lead even further when Dwyer found PJ Scully in a dangerous position but his shot flew just over the bar rather than under.

That let off sparked Westmeath into life as they went on an amazing run scores, accounting for ten of the next eleven points. Killian Doyle was giving Laois all kinds of problems at centre forward popping over points from play and placed balls, while Niall O’Brien was also contributing handsomely to the scoreboard.

Laois had gone 10 minutes without a score by the time Scully eventually pointed a free and found themselves behind by fourteen points to seven.

Doyle and Scully exchanged scores again before the first big turning point in the game in the 29th minute. Dwyer won possession for Laois around the middle of the field and played a high ball in to the edge of the square. Ross King, who had been wasteful up to that point, timed his jump perfectly to nip in between full back and goalkeeper, leaving him to tap the ball in the empty net.

More drama was to follow swiftly after. What looked to be an innocuous enough tangle between around the Westmeath 65 between Arron Craig and Dwyer was deemed otherwise by the linesman who was close to the incident. He called referee Patrick Murphy across and after a brief chat, Murphy produced a red card for Craig.

Westmeath responded to the blow with a quick point, this time from Ciaran Doyle, leaving them ahead on a score of 0-18 to 1-09 at the half time break.

tommy-gallagher-dejected-after-the-game A dejected Tommy Gallagher post-match. Source: Lorraine O’Sullivan/INPHO

With the extra man advantage Laois came out strong in the second half scoring five of the first six points with Scully was deadly from placed balls. But just as they looked to be struggling Westmeath responded brilliantly. It was Niall O’Brien again who found another gear as he put over three points from various angles and all of a sudden Westmeath were back into a commanding six-point lead as the teams went to the water break.

But as game headed into the final stretch Laois finally began to make their extra man advantage pay dividends. A tiring Westmeath were giving away frees and Scully continued to punish them every time while King again came to life, firing over two outstanding points.

In the 62 minutes of the game Laois retook the lead for the first time since the early minutes of the game, and then stretched it out further courtesy of two points from Jack Kelly.

With Westmeath three points down heading into injury time David Glennon, who had been lively throughout, exchanged passes and headed for goal before being hauled down for a penalty.

Substitute Derek McNicholas stepped up and struck with power but saw his effort sneak over the bar.

Willie Dunphy got his marching orders late on for Laois for a second yellow card but the final score of the game came from yet another Scully free as Laois wrapped up a hard fought three point win.

Westmeath, having won last weekend’s Joe McDonagh Cup decider, will be bitterly disappointed not to have got anything for their efforts in the game and find themselves returning to Division Two hurling.

Laois though have turned their season around in recent weeks and will be back competing at the top table again in 2022.

Scorers for Laois: PJ Scully 0-17 (0-11f, 0-3 ’65), Ross King 1-2, Charles Dwyer 0-03, Willie Dunphy 0-02, Jack Kelly 0-02, Paddy Purcell 0-01.

Scorers for Westmeath: Killian Doyle 0-11 (0-08f), Niall O’Brien 0-07, Derek McNicholas 0-03, Ciaran Doyle 0-02, Niall Mitchell 0-01, Joey Boyle 0-01, Aaron Craig 0-01, Kevin Regan 0-01.

Laois

1. Enda Rowland (Abbeyleix) Capt

2. Donnacha Hartnett (Mountmellick)

3. Matthew Whelan (Borris-in-Ossary Kilcotton)

4. Sean Downey (Ballinakill)

5. Podge Delaney (The Harps)

6. Ciaran McEvoy (Portlaoise)

7. Jack Kelly (Rathdowney Errill)

8. James Keyes (Colt Shanahoe)

9. Fiachra C Fennell (Rosenallis)

10. Paddy Purcell (Rathdowney Errill)

11. Willie Dunphy (Clough Ballacolla)

12. Ciaran Collier (Camross)

13. PJ Scully (Borris-in-Ossary Kilcotton)

14. Charles Dwyer (Ballinakill)

15. Ross King (Rathdowney Errill)

Subs

21. Aaron Dunphy (Borris-in-Ossary Kilcotton) for Collier (25)

20. James Ryan (Rathdowney Errill) for Whelan (Half-time)

23. Ciaran Comerford (The Harps) for Keyes (57)

24. Eoin Gaughan (Camross) for A.Dunphy (69)

22. John Lennon (Rosenallis) for Purcell (73)

Westmeath

1. Noel Canaty (Lough Lene Gaels)

2. Darragh Egerton (Clonkill)

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3. Tommy Gallagher (Castlepollard)

4. Conor Shaw (Brownstown)

5. Aaron Craig (St. Oliver Plunketts)

6. Tommy Doyle (Lough Lene Gaels)

7. Aonghus Clarke (Castletown Geoghan)

8. Cormac Boyle (Raheny) Capt

9. Robbie Greville (Raharney)

10. David Glennon (Mullagh, Galway)

11. Killian Doyle (Raharney)

12. Joey Boyle (Raharney)

13. Ciaran Doyle (Raharney)

14. Niall O’Brien (Castletown Geoghan)

15. Niall Mitchell (Clonkill)

Subs

20. Kevin Regan (Cullion) for Clarke (Half-time)

23. Josh Coll (Delvin) for Boyle (Half-time)

24. Derek McNicholas (Lough Lene Gaels) for C.Doyle (49)

18. Shane Calvin (Castletown Geoghegan) for Shaw (55)

25. Shane Williams (Lough Lene Gaels) for K.Doyle (72)

Referee: Patrick Murphy (Carlow)

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