Cody Ward, Westmeath, chased by Eoin Bracken, Laois, in Saturday's Leinster Academy hurling game at St Oliver Plunkett's GAA grounds, Mullingar.

Westmeath fade as Laois dominate second half

Laois 2-24

Westmeath 2-9

In glorious summer sunshine at St Oliver Plunkett’s GAA grounds on Saturday, Westmeath’s under 16 hurlers gave second best to a strong Laois side, in a Leinster Talent Academy encounter.

An impressive second half display by a stronger Laois side ensured a facile victory: the visitors scored 2-12 after the break, while Westmeath managed just 1-2.

At half-time in the sweltering sunshine, Laois Led by 0-12 to 1-7 and after a promising opening 24 minutes, Westmeath failed to score for 20 minutes while the visitors notched an unanswered 2-8. The game was 43 minutes old when Westmeath full forward Rory O’Brien swooped for his second major, after a darting run by midfielder Cody Ward.

The Lake County, who won the Jerome O’Leary Celtic Challenge the previous weekend, looked in a good position when leading by 1-7 to 0-8 after 24 minutes. Mikey Sinnott had just scored his second point, following good work by Callum Cruise. However, Laois were the dominant side thereafter.

There were positive moments for the Westmeath management team which included Ian Corrigan, Joe Dooley and Barry Kennedy. They started well and, following points by Ben McNamee and Padraig Casey (free), Rory O’Brien found the net. The goal came in the eighth minute, after Casey’s free was parried by the Laois ‘keeper.

Mikey Sinnott shot over a wonderful point from the wing after nine minutes and Casey added a free to give Westmeath a four-point cushion, 1-4 to 0-3. However, they failed to build on that early promise, with their other three first half scores coming from Dylan Corrigan (a fine point from play), Casey and Sinnott.

Westmeath struggled to impose themselves after the break and Laois got some impressive scores from the likes of Hugh Whelan, Shane Connelly and substitute Ashton Keenan. When Connelly fielded a sideline cut impressively and set up Ross Deegan for their first goal on 39 minutes, it was 1-14 to 1-7 in Laois’ favour.

Deegan got his second goal on 41 minutes and that paved the way for an emphatic victory.

Referee James McGrath had strong words with a Laois mentor following persistent dissent on the sidelines and it disappointing to see such a lack of respect for the match official. If the GAA are serious about promoting these talent academy games, they need to address this issue and ensure there is proper respect for referees.

SCORERS - Laois: R Deegan 2-4, H Whelan 0-7 (4f), S Connelly and R Kavanagh 0-3 each, A Keenan and K Cuddy 0-2 each, E Bracken, T Goode and C Peters 0-1 each.

Westmeath: R O’Brien 2-0, P Casey 0-3 (2f), M Sinnott and S Hayes 0-2 each, D Corrigan and B McNamee 0-1 each.

Laois: Shane O’Sullivan; Conor Ryan, Shane Walsh, Rio Lucumber; Monte Balfe, Conor Mortimer, Evan McSpalden; Eoin Bracken, Tommy Goode; Shane Connelly, Hugh Whelan, Callum Peters; Ruadhrí Kavanagh, Kyran Cuddy, Ross Deegan. Subs used: Ryan O’Connor, Ashton Keenan.

Westmeath: Cathal Óg Fagan; Evan Murray, Aaron Flanagan, David O’Malley; Charlie Foy, Sean Hayes, Eoin Meehan; Cody Ward, Ben McNamee; Mikey Sinnott, Padraig Casey, Dylan Corrigan; Luke Myler, Rory O’Brien, Callum Cruise. Subs used:

Sam Connaughton, Cillian Farrell, Conor Maloney, Cathal Purcell, Setanta Gavigan.

Ref: James McGrath (Westmeath).