Westmeath were full value for their eight-point winning margin in the rearranged Allianz National Football League Division 2 match played in ideal conditions for football in TEG Cusack Park, Mullingar.
Prior to the game, the two midland sides were level on five points each with an identical scoring difference of minus eight - Westmeath were ahead merely on points scored - and neither side was certain whether they would be operating in Division 1, 2 or 3 in 2021.
Westmeath's marquee player, John Heslin, had tweeted his concerns during the week about the resumption of inter-county activity, but the St Loman's, Mullingar man looked very much like a man who wanted to play football in the opening half as he led the Laois defence a merry dance, kicking half of his side’s dozen points, with three of them from open play with either foot.
The home team played some outstanding football in the first half, with Ray Connellan and Ronan O’Toole both scoring a brace each from play.
Laois’s first four points came from frees, the fourth of them coming from goalkeeper Niall Corbett from the 45-metre line in the 21st minute. Their fifth score came courtesy of Gary Walsh on the half-hour mark when the corner forward might have found the net. Westmeath were well worth their 0-12 to 0-05 lead at half-time.
In truth, despite Diarmuid Whelan opening the scoring in the second half with a great 40th-minute point, moments after his manager Mike Quirke had been banished to the empty stand, the visitors never looked like making any serious inroads into the deficit.
Lorcan Dolan cancelled Whelan’s point out with his second 'mark’ of the afternoon and Jack Cooney’s men continued to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
Heslin’s first score of the second half came from a 59th-minute free, and his club colleague O’Toole followed up with arguably the point of the day to put his side ahead by 0-16 to 0-08. Any lingering doubts about the outcome were dispelled when great play by Luke Loughlin and Lorcan Dolan teed up wing back Jamie Gonoud who slapped the ball to the net from point-blank range in the 63rd minute.
Gary Walsh converted five late frees for Laois, but points from Heslin and debutant Brandon Kelly rounded off an impressive Westmeath display.
Westmeath: J Daly; J Smith, R Wallace, B Sayeh; J Dolan (0-01), K Maguire, J Gonoud (1-00); P Holloway, S Duncan; L Loughlin, R O’Toole (0-03), R Connellan (0-02); L Dolan (0-02, 0-02 marks), J Heslin (0-08, 0-04f), K Martin (0-01).
Subs: B Kelly (0-01) for L Dolan (66), D Lynch for Holloway (69), C McCormack for Loughlin (70 + 3), A McGivney for Martin (70 +3).
Laois: N Corbett (0-02, 0-02f); T Collins, D Booth, R Pigott; A Farrell, S O’Flynn, E Buggie; K Lillis, J O’Loughlin; G Dillon, M Barry (0-02, 0-02f), B Byrne; D Whelan (0-01), E O’Carroll (0-01, 0-01f), G Walsh (0-06, 0-05f).
Subs: D O’Reilly (0-01) for Dillon (h-t), R Munnelly for Barry (46), E Lowry for Byrne (51), M Keogh for Whelan (60), B Daly for O’Carroll (64),
Referee: P Maguire (Longford).