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Egan bags 1-7 in Westmeath's Division 3 final victory against Laois

Jack Cooney’s side had three points to spare over Laois.

Westmeath 1-13

Laois 0-13 

Kevin O’Brien reports from Croke Park 

JACK COONEY’S REIGN as Westmeath boss couldn’t have started much better, as the Lake County added Division 3 honours to the O’Byrne Cup title they claimed in January.

Ger Egan celebrates scoring a goal Ger Egan celebrates his second-half goal. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Having secured successive promotions in John Sugrue’s 18-months in charge, Laois fell short in their bid to claim back-to-back league titles.

It was their fifth game at Croke Park in the last 12 months but despite playing with a man extra for 20-odd minutes, they didn’t have quite enough against a well-organised Westmeath outfit. 

Westmeath lost James Dolan and Boidu Sayeh to black cards in either half but a strong spell in the final quarter where they scored 1-4 without reply put them on the road to victory.

The game’s turning point arrived in the 59th minute with a mistake from Laois keeper Graham Brody.

After making one of his typical ventures upfield he kicked away possession from a free near his 45m line and Denis Corroon hoofed it into John Heslin. He combined with Luke Loughlin to set-up Ger Egan’s crucial goal, bringing the Tyrrellspass man’s tally to 1-7. 

Egan has been in stunning form for Cooney’s team all year and he was the best player on the field by some distance, deservedly taking man-of-the-match honours.

Westmeath lined out seven defenders, using a two-man full-forward line with Dolan in the sweeper role, which left Mark Timmons free as the extra Laois defender.

Sugrue’s side initially started with Timmons man-marking Heslin, but Colm Begley took on that responsibility midway through the opening period. Laois generally left five men up and wing-forward Trevor Collins dropped deep into his defence when they were without the ball. 

These teams meet in the Leinster quarter-final on 26 May, so a certain amount of shadow-boxing may have been at play during this game.

Tempers flare between Sam Duncan and Gareth Dillon Tempers flare between Sam Duncan and Gareth Dillon. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Westmeath led by 0-7 to 0-5 at the interval, through five scores from Egan, and one each from Heslin and Ronan O’Toole. Laois scored just twice from play in the first-half - via Kingston and Eoin Lowry – but were much improved after the restart with the breeze at their backs.

Three from O’Carroll and a booming Timmons effort helped them take a one-point lead by the 46th minute as they made full use of the extra man following Dolan’s sin-binning. 

Dolan had hardly returned to the field when Sayeh received a black himself for checking the run of his man. Westmeath had just three points on the board in the third quarter when full-back Ronan Wallace fisted over a fourth after making a break forward.

Sugrue sprang experienced campaigners Ross Munnelly, Brendan Quigley and Paul Kingston off the bench for the final push home. Then Egan rattled the back of Brody’s net with 11 minutes to play, and his seventh point of the day left them 1-13 to 0-10 ahead after 64 minutes. 

Laois bombarded the square with high ball late on and hit three scores in-a-row, with the pick of them arriving after Paul Kingston’s stunning mark, but they couldn’t find a goal to force extra-time. 

Scorers for Westmeath: Ger Egan 1-7 (0-3f, 0-1m), Ronan O’Toole 0-2, John Heslin and David Lynch 0-1 each. 

Scorers for Laois: Evan O’Carroll 0-5 (0-4f), Donie Kingston 0-5 (0-1f, 0-1m), Mark Timmons, Eoin Lowry and Paul Kingston (0-1m) 0-1 each.

Westmeath

1. Eoin Carberry (Rosemount)

3. Ronan Wallace (Multyfarnham)
4. Boidu Sayeh (Rosemount)
5. Kevin Maguire (Caulry)

7. James Dolan (Garrycastle)

19. David Lynch (St Malachy’s)
18. Noel Mulligan (Athlone)
2. Killian Daly (Mullingar Shamrocks)

8. Sam Duncan (Milltownpass)
9. Denis Corroon (Mullingar Shamrocks)

14. Kieran Martin (Maryland)
13. Ronan O’Toole (St. Loman’s, Mullingar)
15. Ger Egan (Tyrrellspass)

11. John Heslin (St. Loman’s, Mullingar)
12. Luke Loughlin (The Downs)

Subs

24. Noel O’Reilly (Milltownpass) for Lynch (65)
23. Joe Halligan (Milltown) for Mulligan (67)
20. Tommy McDaniel (Castleknock) for Loughlin (71)
17. Darren Giles (Coralstown Kinnegad) for O’Toole (75)

Laois

1. Graham Brody (Portlaoise)

2. Stephen Attride (Killeshin)
3. Mark Timmons (Graiguecullen)
4. Gareth Dillon (Portlaoise)

5. Trevor Collins (Graiguecullen)
6. Colm Begley (Stradbally)
7. Seán O’Flynn (Courtwood)

8. John O’Loughlin (St. Brigid’s)
9. Kieran Lillis (Portlaoise) 

10. Eoin Lowry (Killeshin)
11. Conor Boyle (Portlaoise)
12. Martin Scully (Ballyroan Abbey)

13. Donal Kingston (Arles-Killeen)
14. Paul Cahillane (Portlaoise)
15. Evan O’Carroll (Crettyard)

Subs

18. Ross Munnelly (Arles Kilcruise) for Lowry (48)
21. Benny Carroll (Portlaoise) for Boyle (48)
20. Brendan Quigley (Timahoe) for Lillis (57)
26. Paul Kingston (Arles Killeen) for Cahillane (57)
23. Damien O’Connor (Timahoe) for Scully (67)

Referee: Jerome Henry (Mayo)

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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