Ronan O’Toole helped himself to three points for Westmeath today.

Heslin and O’Toole to the fore as Westmeath ease past Laois

Allianz NFL Division 2: Westmeath 1-18, Laois 0-13

John Heslin kicked eight points and Jamie Gonoud marked his return to the Westmeath setup with a goal, as the Lake County kept the promotion hunt up with an impressive victory over Laois in Division 2 of the Allianz NFL.

Heslin expressed concern midweek about Gaelic games going ahead amid the worsening Covid-19 situation, but he showed no sign of nerves in TEG Cusack Park today, as he led the way for Jack Cooney’s charges in a sensational first half display.

Westmeath were seven to the good before Laois could generate a reply, with the St Loman’s forward producing four of those points, and Ronan O’Toole, Lorcan Dolan (a mark) and Kieran Martin also among the scorers.

Laois didn’t score from play until late in the first half, and two more from Heslin, added to a brace from Ray Connellan and a second point for O’Toole, ensured that the Maroons enjoyed a 0-12 to 0-5 lead at the break.

Westmeath kept up the momentum in an evenly-balanced third quarter. With The Downs’ Luke Loughlin creating several opportunities, and Heslin, O’Toole and James Dolan finding their range, the hosts found themselves 0-16 to 0-8 ahead.

Then, the goal arrived, killing off the game as a contest. Loughlin was the orchestrator, picking out Lorcan Dolan with a superb pass before Dolan played Jamie Gonoud in to smash to the Laois net.

Westmeath took the foot off the gas and the O’Moore men shot four points in a row, but their opponents were too far ahead.

Another point from Heslin, as well as a debut score for sub Brandon Kelly (Milltownpass), wrapped up a fine day at the office for the Lake County, who face a trip to Kildare next Saturday – unless NPHET and the Government have other ideas.

Westmeath: J Daly; J Smith, R Wallace, B Sayeh; J Dolan (0-1), K Maguire, J Gonoud (1-0); P Holloway, S Duncan; L Loughlin, R O’Toole (0-3), R Connellan (0-2); L Dolan (0-2m), J Heslin (0-8, 4f), K Martin (0-1). Subs used: B Kelly (0-1) for L Dolan (66), D Lynch for Holloway (69), C McCormack for Loughlin (70 + 3), A McGivney for Martin (70 + 3).

Laois: N Corbett (0-2f); T Collins, D Booth, R Pigott; A Farrell, S O’Flynn, E Buggie; K Lillis, J O’Loughlin; G Dillon, M Barry (0-2f), B Byrne; D Whelan (0-1), E O’Carroll (0-1f), G Walsh (0-6, 5f). Subs used: D O’Reilly (0-1) for Dillon (h-t), R Munnelly for Barry (46), E Lowry for Byrne (51), M Keogh for Whelan (60), B Daly for O’Carroll (64).

Ref: P Maguire (Longford).

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