Laois 1-14 Meath 1-11

Updated: Thursday, 10 Feb 2011 13:15

Joe Sheridan was very influential for Meath in attack
Joe Sheridan was very influential for Meath in attack

Laois laid down an early season marker with an impressive victory over Meath in their Allianz League Division 2 encounter at Portlaoise.

New managers Justin McNulty and Seamus McEnaney watched their sides battle it out.

John O'Loughlin's early goal set Laois up for a 1-07 to 0-07 half-time lead.

Joe Sheridan caused problems for the hosts at full-forward and substitute Nigel Crawford's goal got Meath back level at 1-10 apiece.

But points from O’Loughlin, top scorer MJ Tierney (0-07) and Brendan Quigley gave the verdict to Laois.

McEnaney made four changes to the team that lost the O'Byrne Shield final to Dublin.

Brendan Murphy returned in goal, Bryan Menton made way for Brian Meade at centre-back and Graham Reilly and Cian Ward were added to the attack.

Paddy Gilsenan made his first National League start at corner forward.

Laois lined out with Tierney, Ross Munnelly and Billy Sheehan in a high quality full-forward line, with Quigley and Kevin Meaney manning the engine room.

Meaney was switched to full-back to mark Sheridan once the game got underway, and Conor Boyle was redeployed to wing back.

These sides met in the O'Byrne Shield last week, with Meath running out 0-11 to 0-08 winners at Navan. The Royals opened the scoring in the rematch courtesy of a Ward free, before Sheehan levelled for the O'Moore men.

Then tricky full-forward Sheehan got onto a long through ball to play it on the ground past goalkeeper Murphy and set up centre forward O'Loughlin for a simple finish to the net.

Tierney opened his account soon after for a 1-02 to 0-01 scoreline.

As the pace quickened, Sheridan and Shane McAnerney registered points for the visitors, with the latter's shot touched over by Laois goalkeeper Eoin Culliton. A free from Munnelly put the gap at three points.

By the break, the goal still stood as the difference between the sides. Ward landed his second and third frees and Reilly and Shane O'Rourke, who was moved to full-forward, added their names to the scoresheets.

Tierney (0-03) and Munnelly (0-02) led the scoring for McNulty's men and wing forward Niall Donoher chipped in with a score as the first half came to a close.

The second half burst into life with Meath substitute Crawford forcing a superb save out of Culliton.

Tierney took centre stage again when he popped over a free and a second punched effort came after he broke free from Caoimhin King's grasp.

With his side 1-09 to 0-07 in arrears, McEnaney reacted by sending Sheridan back in towards the square.

It paid dividends as the Royals reeled off three successive points.

New captain Seamus Kenny pointed, Sheridan added another and he then set up McAnerney for a score.

Laois got back in scoring form but Crawford then netted from ten yards out, after the ball broke for him.

Meath seemed to have the momentum at 1-10 apiece. Laois though had other ideas.

There was no sign of a collapse from the hosts as Munnelly teed up O'Loughlin for a much-needed point, and then Meath's indiscipline in defence really cost them.

Tierney punished them with two more frees and the hard-working Quigley finished things off with a point right at the death.