Laois 2-21 Antrim 0-21

Updated: Monday, 10 Mar 2014 12:56 | Comments

Laois manager Seamus Plunkett's side held off the Antrim challenge
Laois manager Seamus Plunkett's side held off the Antrim challenge

A solid five-minute spell from Laois at the end of the third quarter laid the platform for a 2-21 to 0-21 win over Antrim at O'Moore Park.

Neil Foyle delivered the hosts' first goal during this spell, with their second coming five minutes from the end, on the way to a six-point win.

Trailing by 0-14 to 0-13 in the 48th minute, after Antrim had scored six unanswered points after half-time, Seamus Plunkett's men hit an unanswered 1-05 to hand them a lead they wouldn't relinquish.

Earlier, Antrim began brightly and led by 0-02 to 0-00 after three minutes, thanks to points from Conor Johnston (0-07) and Paul Shiels (0-06).

However, Laois firmly turned the game in their favour by half-time, with Ross King (1-07) leading the charge.

King fired Laois into the lead for the first time after seven minutes, and although Antrim equalised through Conor Carson, a ninth-minute score from Charlie Dwyer, would put Laois into a lead they wouldn't relinquish until the second half.

King, Dwyer, Tommy Fitzgerald and Matthew Whelan added further scores, as Laois opened up a 0-13 to 0-08 interval lead.

Indeed Antrim could have been further in arrears at the break, but for the reflexes of goalkeeper Chrissy O'Connell, who was fully outstretched to deflect a 25th-minute goal effort from Fitzgerald over the cross-bar.

The visitors were sharp on the restart, with Shiels and Johnston continuing to punish.

Their efforts saw Antrim take the lead for the first time since the third minute, after Johnston brought his tally to five points in the 47th minute.

The St John's clubman handed the visitors a 0-14 to 0-13 lead, but the Saffrons would be on the back-foot soon after, as Laois once again kicked into gear.

King tied the game for the fourth time with 20 minutes left on the clock, starting a dominant spell for the hosts.

Stephen Maher handed Laois the lead, before Neil Foyle's goal and points from Willie Hyland, King and John Purcell opened up a seven-point gap.

Foyle's effort on the stroke of the end of the third quarter ensured a 1-15 to 0-14 scoreline, after the substitute caught a high ball inside, and gave Antrim keeper O'Connell little chance from close range.

Antrim rallied with a trio of points, with Ciaran Clarke and Shiels firing points from frees, while Carson added his second from play.

With ten minutes remaining, the score-line stood at 1-18 to 0-17, but King fired Laois's second goal five minutes from the end, and from there Antrim were unable to mount a comeback.

Laois: E Reilly; J A Delaney, B Campion, B Stapleton; J Fitzpatrick (0-01), M Whelan (0-01, 1f), C Dunne; P Whelan, C Collier; J Purcell (0-02), W Hyland (0-01), D Palmer; R King (1-07, 5f), C Dwyer (0-03), T Fitzgerald (0-03).

Subs: S Maher (0-01) for Collier (24); P Purcell for Whelan (45); PJ Scully (0-02) for Dwyer (Blood 50-54); N Foyle (1-00) for Palmer (50); PJ Scully for Fitzgerald (63); B Reddin for King (68).

Antrim: C O'Connell; C Johnson (0-07), C McKinley, O McFadden; C Johnson, N McCauley, E Campbell; D McKernan, P Shiels (0-06, 4f); D Hamill, C Carson (0-02), C McCann; N McKenna, N McManus (0-01), C Clarke (0-02, 2f).

Subs: PJ O'Connell (0-02) for McCann (18-23 Blood); PJ O'Connell for McKernan (25); S Beatty for McKenna (44); T McCann for C McCann (58); R McCambridge (0-01) for Clarke (58).

Referee: John Keenan (Wicklow)

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