Galway opened their Allianz League campaign with a comfortable victory as they easily brushed aside Laois, moving 14 points ahead by the early stages of the second half before a strong finish from the Midlanders reduced the gap to nine by the final whistle.
An uncharacteristically calm day for Pearse Stadium in January made for ideal conditions for both sides and the Galway forwards certainly made hay, quickly racking up the scores as they moved eight points clear by the 18th minute.
Cathal Mannion fired over three excellent scores from midfield while his centre field partner Seán Loftus also chipped in with an early score, as Galway chose to shoot from range and take Laois sweeper Paddy Purcell out of the game.
Purcell did pick off the first Laois point of the game after Conor Phelan made a good intercept on a sideline ball and then a diagonal delivery into Aaron Dunphy allowed the big full forward to fire over a second score over his shoulder, but Galway never broke stride and had their tenth point on the board within 18 minutes of the throw in.
If there was a silver lining for Laois, it was that they prevented Galway from getting too much traction close to Enda Rowland’s goal, with Joe Phelan and Matthew Whelan picking off a couple of key turnovers when it looked as if the Tribesmen might get a clear sight on goal.
Galway finally made their breakthrough after 24 minutes when Sean Loftus broke a tackle, played in Brian Concannon, and one more handpass left Davy Glennon with just the keeper to beat – which he duly did with a low shot across Rowland into the corner.
PJ Scully’s accuracy from frees kept the scoreboard moving from a Laois perspective but the O’Moore men were far too dependent on dead ball opportunities, registering just four scores from open play before the last ten minutes of action.
Joe Canning also racked up scores from frees, but he was far more ably assisted by those around him and so Galway led by 1-16 to 0-07 at half time, adding two more points to the gap after the break.
An innocuous long ball from the Laois half-back line broke kindly for John Lennon to sweep the sliotar to the Galway net after 44 minutes, and while Galway responded well with a couple of points from Thomas Monaghan, Laois had the better of the last quarter and gradually worked the final margin down to single digits.
Lennon crashed in a second goal after good approach play from Paddy Purcell, while three late frees from Mark Kavanagh will give Eddie Brennan’s side a little bit of momentum ahead of what’s likely to be another tough outing against Waterford next weekend.
Galway: Fergal Flannery; Jack Grealish, Ronan Burke, Sean Linnane; Kevin Hussey, Padraic Mannion (0-01), Aidan Harte (0-01); Cathal Mannion (0-04), Sean Loftus (0-02); Jack Coyne (0-01), Joe Canning (0-10, 0-08 frees, 0-01 ’65), Seán Blehane (0-02); Tomás Monaghan (0-02), Brian Concannon (0-01), Davy Glennon (1-02).
Subs used: Ronan O’Meara for Coyne (57), Jack Fitzpatrick for Harte (58), Sean Kilduff for Canning (59), Shane Bannon for Grealish (64), Tadhg Haran (0-01, free) for Monaghan (69)
Laois: Enda Rowland; Donncha Hartnett, Matthew Whelan, Joe Phelan; Jack Kelly (0-02), Ryan Mullaney, Padraig Delaney; PJ Scully (0-06, 0-06 frees), Conor Phelan; John Lennon (2-00), Mark Kavanagh (0-04, 0-04 frees), Éanna Lyons; Paddy Purcell (0-01), Aaron Dunphy (0-01), Stephen Maher.
Subs used: Sean Downey for Delaney (42), Neil Foyle for Maher (50), Charles Dwyer (0-01) for Scully (58), Aaron Bergin for Lyons (60), Jake Cranny for Phelan (69)
Referee: Johnny Murphy (Limerick)