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Westmeath 1-10 Laois 1-08

Updated: Sunday, 10 Mar 2013 18:42 | Comments

John Heslin starred for Westmeath, scoring all bar three of their points
John Heslin starred for Westmeath, scoring all bar three of their points

Allianz Football League Division 2 leaders Westmeath maintained their unbeaten run with a hard-earned 1-10 to 1-08 win over Laois in Mullingar.

John Heslin scored 1-07 for the hosts, including a vital late point, with substitute Dessie Dolan also on target in the closing stages.

Gary Walsh’s goal helped Laois take a 1-06 to 1-03 interval lead and they started the second half brightly.

But with Laois having Brendan Quigley sent-off, Westmeath edged past them thanks to late scores from Dolan and Heslin.

Both sides lined out as selected during midweek, with Laois bringing Cahir Healy, Robbie Kehoe and Padraig Clancy into the team from the side which drew with Louth.

The wind-assisted visitors opened brightly thanks to a pointed free from MJ Tierney, his first of five points for the afternoon, but Westmeath were quick to respond.

Heslin converted an early penalty goal after John O'Loughlin had hauled him to the ground. The UCD student stepped up to convert the penalty himself.

Westmeath continued to impress as Callum McCormack quickly extended their lead to three points, but Laois responded with an excellent Peter O'Leary score in the 11th minute.

Laois hit their second wide before Tierney put over his second point from a free, cutting the gap to the minimum by the 13th minute.

Tierney's accuracy from placed balls further punished Westmeath as his third point following a foul on Gary Walsh tied the contest at 0-04 to 1-01.

Westmeath's defence came under sustained pressure from the Laois attack and Justin McNulty's side regained the lead thanks to a score from Conor Boyle after a well-placed Billy Sheehan pass.

Laois continued to attack with vigour and in the 23rd minute, corner forward Walsh knocked home their only goal of the game.

The Ballylinan clubman finished past goalkeeper Gary Connaughton into the corner of the net after initial good work by Stephen O'Leary, Quigley and Kerry native Sheehan who delivered the final pass.

Westmeath were not without their own goal opportunities at this stage. Ger Egan only had stopper Eoin Culliton to beat, but the Tyrrellspass clubman sliced his effort off the crossbar.

McCormack also had a chance to bag a goal, but his shot was caught near the line by Laois centre-back Mark Timmons.

Westmeath ate into the Laois lead with scores from James Dolan and Heslin, but Laois were still three to the good at half-time.

Pat Flanagan's charges upped the tempo on the restart with Heslin continuing to slot some excellent scores. They registered two of the opening three points in the second half, as Heslin made it a one-point game again.

However, it was the timely introduction of former All-Star Dessie Dolan which spurred Westmeath on to victory. Following a Heslin equaliser, the returning Dolan pushed the hosts ahead 1-09 to 1-08 late on.

Laois had lost industrious midfielder Quigley at this stage, following a second yellow card, and Heslin brought his tally to 1-07 with an injury-time point, to make it three wins and a draw for Westmeath in this year's league.

Laois manager Justin McNulty told the press afterwards that he accepted responsibility for the defeat - Laois's second of the Division 2 campaign. They lie sixth in the table ahead of next Saturday's meeting with third-placed Galway at O'Moore Park.

Westmeath scorers: J Heslin 1-07 (1-00pen, 0-06f), C McCormack, D Dolan, J Dolan 0-01 each
Laois scorers: MJ Tierney 0-05 (0-05f), G Walsh 1-01, P O'Leary, C Boyle 0-01 each

Westmeath: G Connaughton; M McCallon, K Gavin, K Maguire; M Curley, J Gaffey, J Dolan; D Duffy, J Heslin; G Egan, C McCormack, K Martin; D Corroon, C Curley, D Glennon.
Subs used: Dessie Dolan for Curley; D Daly for Duffy; Damien Dolan for Corroon.

Laois: E Culliton; C Healy, D Booth, P O'Leary; R Kehoe, M Timmons, C Boyle; J O'Loughlin, B Quigley; R Munnelly, B Sheehan, C Begley; MJ Tierney, P Clancy, G Walsh.
Subs used: P Begley for Kehoe; K Meaney for O'Leary; K Lillis for Timmons; C Meredith for Munnelly.

Referee: David Gough (Meath)

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