Brendan Graham reporting from Croke Park
MARK KAVANAGH STEERED Laois to victory in the Joe McDonagh Cup final with a 12-point tally, defeating a brave Westmeath side by 11 points in Croke Park this afternoon.
Killian Doyle opened the game’s scoring with a sublime side line to put Westmeath ahead with three minutes played.
It didn’t take Laois long to find their feet in front of goal, either, with Ross King driving an unstoppable shot past Conor Lynch in the Westmeath goal following an almighty scramble in the box close to goal.
The game gradually began to slow down a bit in terms of pace following a frantic opening 10 minutes. Kavanagh and Doyle exchanged points at either end to leave the score at 1-3 to 0-4 in favour of Laois.
A further flurry of points followed with nothing to separate the sides after 20 minutes until Aaron Dunphy took the game by the scruff of the neck scoring 1-1 inside a minute to edge Laois in front 2-06 to 0-7.
The wing forward went past Paul Greville with ease and buried the ball past Conor Lynch in the Laois net.
The perfect response followed from Westmeath with a goal of their own straight from the restart.
Sharpshooter Doyle netted before following it up with another routine point to give the Raharney man his ninth score of the game, leaving four points between the teams in favour of Laois.
Kavanagh pointed the final score of the half to ensure Laois ended the first half in front by four on a score line of 2-11 to 1-10.
Stephen Bergin scores a goal.
Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO
Two scores inside 90 seconds of the second half for Westmeath gave them the perfect start in their bid to pull back a four-point half-time deficit.
But the evergreen Kavanagh kept them honest with a further two points close to goal to reinstate Laois’ four-point lead.
With 46 minutes played, blood substitute for Laois Stephen Bergin – who had only entered the field of play moments earlier as a blood substitute for Kavanagh – was in the right place at the right time to take a pass from Paddy Purcell and fire the ball past into the Westmeath net to extend the lead for Laois to five points.
Kavanagh resumed his role on the field moments later with Bergin rewarded for his goal by being brought on for the remainder of the game moments later replacing Ross King.
A further four points for Mark Kavanagh and three from play for substitute Eanna Lyons extended Laois’s lead to nine points as the game entered the final stages as they led Westmeath 3-22 to 1-19.
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Eddie Brennan’s side pulled away in the final few minutes of the game winning the Joe McDonagh Cup for 2019.
Scorers for Laois: Ross King (1-0), Mark Kavanagh (0-12, 6f), John Lennon (0-2), Aaron Dunphy (1-4), Charles Dwyer (0-2), Stephen Bergin (1-0), Eanna Lyons (0-3), Neil Foyle (0-2), Paddy Purcell (0-1)
of the team
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Scorers for Westmeath: Killian Doyle (1-11, 6f), Shane Clavin (0-1), Aonghus Clarke (0-1), Cormac Boyle (0-1), Allan Devine (0-1), Derek McNicholas (0-1), Liam Varley (0-1), Ciaran Doyle (0-2), Joey Boyle (0-1), Eoin Price (0-1)
1. Enda Rowland ( St Lazerian’s Abbeyleix)
2. Lee Cleere ( Clough Ballacolla)
3. Matthew Whelan ( Borris-in-Ossory-Kilcotton)
4. Donnchadh Hartnett ( Mountmellick)
5. Jack Kelly (Rathdowney Errill)
6. Ryan Mullaney ( Castletown)
7. Padraig Delaney ( The Harps)
8. John Lennon ( Rosenallis)
9. Paddy Purcell ( Rathdowney Errill)
10. Aaron Dunphy ( Borris-in-Ossory-Kilcotton)
11. Mark Kavanagh ( Rathdowney Errill)
12. Stephen Maher ( Clough Ballacolla)
13. Willie Dunphy ( Clough Ballacolla)
14. Charles Dwyer ( Ballinakill)
15. Ross King ( Rathdowney Errill)
Stephen Bergin (Clough Ballacolla) for Mark Kavanagh (43) blood substitute
Stephen Bergin for Ross King (49)
Eanna Lyons ( Ballyfin) for Stephen Maher ( 55)
Neil Foyle ( Borris-in-Ossory-Kilcotton) for Charles Dwyer (59)
Joe Phelan (Camross) for Jack Kelly (71)
1. Conor Lynch ( St. Oliver Plunketts)
2. Darragh Egerton ( Clonkill)
3. Tommy Doyle ( Lough Lene Gaels)
4. Gary Greville ( Raharney)
5. Liam Varley ( Castletown Geoghegan)
6. Aonghus Clarke ( Castletown Geoghegan)
7. Paul Greville ( Raharney)
8. Shane Clavin ( Castletown Geoghegan)
9. John Gilligan ( Fr. Dalton’s)
10. Joey Boyle ( Raharney)
11. Killian Doyle ( Raharney)
12. Cormac Boyle ( Raharney)
13. Allan Devine ( Castlepollard)
14. Darragh Clinton ( Delvin)
15. Robbie Greville ( Raharney)
Eoin Price (Clonkill) for John Gilligan (33)
Derek McNicholas ( Lough Lane Gaels) for Darragh Clinton (36)
Ciaran Doyle (Raharney) for Cormac Boyle (53)
Darragh O’Reilly (Castlepollard) for Allan Devine ( 67)
Aaron Craig ( St. Anne’s) for Gary Greville (70)
Referee: Colum Cunning (Antrim)
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