Leinster U21HC: Lake men power past Laois in thriller

May 31, 2017

Westmeath's Killian Doyle with Jack Kelly Laois during the Leinster Under 21 hurling championship game at Cusack Park Mullingar

Ciaran Doyle's goal was the difference as Westmeath edged out Laois by 1-20 to 0-21 after extra time in a dramatic encounter at Mullingar.

Victory means the Lake County will entertain Kilkenny on June 21st for a place in the provincial final, having famously dumped the Cats out of this competition in 2016.

Cusack Park seems to be the place to be for great hurling these days and this was certainly another magnificent contest as the men in maroon came from behind to claim a tremendous success, while Laois seemed to run out of steam as the match progressed.

The game looked to be done and dusted when the visitors went into the last seven minutes of normal time with a six-point advantage, 0-16 to 0-10, but Westmeath rallied superbly with points from Shane Clavin and Ciaran Doyle followed by Doyle's goal on the stroke of the hour. Darragh Clinton knocked over the score that forced an additional 20 minutes of play, 1-13 to 0-16.

Victors over Meath in the preliminary round last Wednesday night, the home team hit the ground running in the first period of added time as Killian Doyle landed a brace before Ciaran Doyle and James Goonery (2) replied to an Aidan Corby point. But two late Laois frees from Aaron Dunphy had them still in touch at half time in extra time.

As the tension rose and scores became few and far between, Corby made it a one-point game with five minutes to go but Clinton made it 1-19 to 0-20 after 76 of the 80 minutes. Brian Corby halved the gap again with two minutes of extra time left but it was fitting that a Killian Doyle free closed the scoring as the Lake lads battled to a tremendous victory to take their place in the last four once more.

The visitors led by five points at the break, 0-9 to 0-4, with Mark Kavanagh doing most of the damage.

Three successive Kavanagh points had the O'Moore County ahead by four points to one after ten minutes, with Sean Downey and Michael Daly having traded the first two scores of the night. Killian Doyle replied for the hosts but a Kavanagh free ensured that the gap went back to three, 0-5 to 0-2.

Aidan and Brian Corby grabbed two Laois points but these were book-ended by points from Lake County twins Killian and Ciaran Doyle. John Lennon made it double scores on 26 minutes and Dunphy closed the first-half scoring.

The hosts came back into contention at the start of the second half as four successive Killian Doyle pointed frees closed the gap to the minimum after 36 minutes but a Kavanagh free at the other end gave the O'Moore County their first score since the resumption. Kavanagh then pointed from play to make it 0-11 to 0-8 with 21 minutes left.

Just as Doyle had done, the Laois sharpshooter brought his scoring streak to 0-4 without reply as the visitors soared five clear again; Paddy Lynam's reply meant it was a four-point match at the three-quarters-stage, 0-13 to 0-9.

The margin was still four with ten minutes left after Doyle's free cancelled out a Kavanagh '65' and further points from Mark Dowling and Brian Corby seemed to have Laois cruising towards a date with Dublin. Instead, they would crash out in the first round for the fifth consecutive year while high-flying Westmeath advanced to an intriguing clash with Kilkenny next month.

Westmeath - S Maher; S Quinn, C Shaw, N McKenna; J Rabbitte, D Giles, D Egerton; S Clavin (0-1), M Daly (0-1); A Loughlin, K Doyle (0-10, 6f), J Galvin; J Goonery (0-2), P Lynam (0-1), C Doyle (1-3, 0-1f). Subs: D Clinton (0-2) for A Loughlin, J Bermingham for M Daly, R Gillen for J Rabbitte, N Mitchell for P Lynam.

Laois - P Simms; D Hartnett, L Bergin, L Cleere; E Killeen, L O'Connell, R Mullaney; J Kelly, A Corby (0-3); S Downey (0-1), J Lennon (0-1), B Corby (0-3); M Kavanagh (0-9, 6f, 1'65), E Lyons, A Dunphy (0-3, 2f). Subs: M Dowling (0-1) for E Lyons, P McCane for M Kavanagh, K Bergin for B Corby, B Corby for J Lennon, M Kavanagh for P McCane.

Referee - K Brady.

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