Narrow wins for Meath and Offaly while Carlow and Laois also get off to bright starts

The 2018 Walsh Cup kicked off this afternoon.

Neil Heffernan had the final say for Meath.
Neil Heffernan had the final say for Meath.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

MEATH, OFFALY, CARLOW and Laois got out of the blocks first in the Bord Na Móna Walsh Cup this afternoon, recording victories to open their respective 2018 hurling seasons brightly.

It came right down to the wire in Trim, with Neil Heffernan’s last gasp point the difference as Meath scraped past Antrim by just one point.

Royals’ captain James Kelly hit the only goal of this afternoon’s thrilling encounter in the 26th minute, and that sparked Meath’s revival after they had fallen five points behind.

Under Nick Fitzgerald for the first time, Meath showed improvements in the second half and were more potent before the posts, taking charge while it was Antrim who were forced to rally on the contrary.

It was tit-for-tat in the closing stages, and the sides struck level in additional time with a draw looking certain. But Heffernan stood up to nail an effort when needed most, and seal his side’s 1-17 to 0-19 win.

Similarly, Offaly and Westmeath played out a right battle in Banagher but the Faithful county came out on top by two points in the end.

Cormac Boyle and Dan McCormack Westmeath's Cormac Boyle (file pic). Source: Ken Sutton/INPHO

Up by four points and looking to be cruising at half-time, Offaly weathered a late Westmeath fightback to open their season on a positive note.

On 50 minutes, Westmeath’s Robbie Greville found the net from long range to reduce the margin but a goal in each half from debutant Colm Gath helped the hosts to victory.

The game finished 2-15 to 1-16.

Meanwhile, Laois were 10-point winners over Kildare at Hawkfield.

At half-time, the 14-man Lilywhites trailed by six points, and were lucky not to be down by more following a lack of potency on Laois’ behalf in front of the posts.

Paul Divilly was Kildare’s top scorer with four points, while Laois goalkeeper Enda Rowland’s first-half penalty propelled his side into a nine-point lead.

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Paul Divilly Kildare's Paul Divilly. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

On the restart, Kildare looked more promising but Laois continued to dominate and finished up 1-16 to 0-9 winners.

Elsewhere, Carlow ran out 4-18 to 2-10 winners over Wicklow at Netwatch Cullen Park. They lead by 3-10 to 1-5 at the break.

Round One Walsh Cup 2018 — Full-time scores:

  • Meath 1-17 Antrim 0-19
  • Offaly 2-15 Westmeath 1-16
  • Kildare 0-9 Laois 1-16 
  • Carlow 4-18 Wicklow 2-10

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