Evan Treacy/INPHO Westmeath's Niall Mitchell celebrates a goal.
# straight shootout
Westmeath fire 5-24 to save top-flight status and potentially send Laois down
The last round of the Leinster championship was essentially a relegation decider between the counties.

Westmeath 5-24

Laois 1-18

LAOIS HAD WON nine of the last ten championship games against Westmeath, stretching back over 30 years, but the tables were turned emphatically in O’Moore Park.

The last round of the Leinster championship was essentially a relegation decider between the counties with the losers likely dropping to the Joe McDonagh Cup in 2023.

But Westmeath were comprehensive 18-point winners, scoring four goals in the second half to save their status and potentially send Laois down.

Having secured a famous draw with Wexford last week, Westmeath were fastest out of the traps with three points in the opening three minutes here; Niall Price, Joey Doyle and Killian Doyle all on target.

But Laois had the wind at their backs and they hit five of the next six points thanks to Cha Dwyer, Paddy Purcell, Ross King, Enda Rowland (free) and James Keyes to take the lead, Westmeath’s only response coming from Doyle.

That nudged Laois ahead and while Joey Boyle and Cormac Boyle pointed either side of another massive Enda Rowland free, Laois then got scores from Ben Conroy and corner-back Padraic Dunne to be 0-8 to 0-6 up at the 20-minute mark.

Stephen ‘Picky’ Maher missed a great goal chance to extend Laois’s lead to five when Noel Conaty pulled off a fine save and though Ross King tapped over a free, the game then took a turn in Westmeath’s favour.

Eoin Keyes did brilliantly to come in along the endline and finish smartly from close range while Keyes, Doyle and Joey Boyle all pointed to have Westmeath 1-9 to 0-9 in the lead after 30 minutes.

Yet Laois were back level when Ross King picked out Paddy Purcell with a lovely pass and his Rathdowney-Errill club-mate made no mistake to goal. Rowland landed his third free to put Laois in front once more but Jack Galvin and Killian Doyle (twice) replied for Westmeath.

James Keyes got the last score of the half with a point but at the break Westmeath led 1-12 to 1-11.

davy-glennon-with-fiachra-c-fennell-and-sean-downey Evan Treacy / INPHO Westmeath's Davy Glennon with Fiachra C Fennell and Sean Downey of Laois. Evan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

Laois played into the wind in the second half but had the better of the opening 10 minutes with Rowland, two from King and Conroy all finding the range.

Doyle and Niall O’Brien kept Westmeath within reach and Niall Mitchell’s brilliant goal in the 45th minute was a big moment.

There was only two points in it at that stage but the floodgates opened thereafter. Niall O’Brien, Mitchell and Eoin Keyes got further goals and by the end there were a massive 18 points between the sides.

For Westmeath it rounds off a relatively positive season. They finish on three points in the Leinster championship and will play at this level again in 2023. They’ll also play in Division 1 of the league having won Division 2.

Laois enter a limbo period, knowing that a Kerry win in the Joe McDonagh final would likely save their top-flight status.

Scorers for Laois: Ross King 0-6 (two frees, one ‘65), Paddy Purcell 1-1, Enda Rowland 0-4 (frees), James Keyes 0-3, Ben Conroy 0-2, Cha Dwyer 0-1, Padraic Dunne 0-1

Scorers for Westmeath: Killian Doyle 0-7 (four frees), Eoin Keyes 2-1, Niall O’Brien 1-3, Niall Mitchell 2-0 Joey Boyle 0-5, Davy Glennon 0-3, Jack Galvin 0-2, Aaron Craig 0-1, Jack Gillen 0-1, Cormac Boyle 0-1


Enda Rowland

Padraic Dunne, Sean Downey, Donnchadh Hartnett

Ryan Mullaney, Liam O’Connell, Ciaran McEvoy

Jack Kelly, Paddy Purcell

James Keyes, Cha Dwyer, Ben Conroy

Stephen Maher, Ross King, Fiachra-C Fennell.


  • Aidan Corby for Dunne (HT)
  • PJ Scully for Maher (54)
  • Tomas Keyes for Kelly (54)
  • Willie Dunphy for Conroy (56)
  • Eric Killeen for Mullaney (57)


Noel Conaty

Darragh Egerton, Tommy Doyle, Conor Shaw

Aaron Craig, Aonghus Clarke, Jack Galvin

Cormac Boyle, Robbie Greville

Joey Boyle, Killian Doyle, Niall Mitchell

Niall O’Brien, Eoin Keyes, Davy Glennon.


  • Derek McNicholas for O’Brien (57)
  • Kevin Regan for C Boyle (61)
  • Shane McGovern for Greville (66)
  • Jack Gillen for Keyes (67)
  • Alan Cox for Glennon (70)

Referee: Colum Cunning (Antrim).


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