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Dublin: 7 °C Friday 14 December, 2018

Winning starts for Westmeath, Longford, Carlow and Offaly in O'Byrne Cup openers

The four sides opened their 2018 seasons on positive notes.

IT’S BACK. THE 2018 Gaelic football season kicked off today with the O’Byrne Cup up and running.

Westmeath 1-13 Laois 1-12

Aaron Dowling with Mark McCallon Westmeath's Mark McCallon and Laois' Aaron Dowling in action. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Westmeath survived a late Laois comeback at Cusack Park to win their opener by a single point.

One of the highlights of the afternoon for Westmeath fans will be Luke Loughlin’s performance on his return from New York to the maroon jersey, hitting five points and impressing throughout.

It was a promising opening 35 minutes for the hosts, James Dolan striking a late first-half goal to leave them 1-7 to 0-4 up. On the restart, the leaders pushed on but Laois started to come into the game more and more.

Seven points down at one stage, Garry Walsh inspired a big comeback but Westmeath just about held on to win.

Louth 1-10 Longford 2-13

Pauric Gill with Daragh Foley Pauric Gill hit the net for Longford (file pic). Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Elsewhere, Longford ran out six-point winners over Louth in Darver.

They started the livelier of the sides with 1-2 to 0-0 on the scoreboard after five minutes. Pauric Gill hit the first goal but Ross Nally soon cancelled that out.

Longford pushed on to lead by six points at the break, some fine efforts from Sean McCormack and Ronan McEntire among those posted.

With a strong wind behind them, Louth produced a hearty fightback, drawing level with six minutes remaining. But Andrew Farrell slotted home to restore Longford’s lead while McCormack (two) and Dessie Reynolds split the posts to ensure their first win of the year.

Wicklow 0-6 Carlow 3-8

Shane O'Neill and John Murphy take to the field John Murphy and Carlow ran out winners. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Carlow’s three goals meant it was a positive opener for them, beating Wicklow by 3-8 t0 0-6 in Bray.

The eventual winners had the stronger first half, up 1-5 to 0-3 at the break, the goal coming from Sean Gannon. On the restart, John Murphy bagged two more — one from play and one from a penalty — to put Carlow 3-5 to 0-3 ahead.

Ciaran Moran and Diarmuid Walsh were among those to add points as the clock ran down, while Darren Hayden was accurate for the Wicklow contingent but it wasn’t to be their day.

Offaly 3-16 Wexford 0-9

And lastly, it was a Round One fixture to forget for Wexford as Offaly beat them by 16 points.

With 12 minutes on the clock the sides were level, but Offaly soon found their feet to pull away through two goals from Jordan Hayes and another from Cian Johnson.

Those three efforts were the difference at half-time, the scoreline reading 3-5 to 0-5.

Donal Shanley, Mark Rossiter and Conor Carty were among the scorers in the second half as Offaly drove on to run out 3-16 to 0-9 winners.

Round One O’Byrne Cup 2018 — Full-time scores:

  • Louth 1-10 Longford 2-13
  • Wicklow 0-6 Carlow 3-8
  • Westmeath 1-13 Laois 1-12
  • Offaly 3-16 Wexford 0-9

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Emma Duffy

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