By Declan Rooney
Galway inflicted a second Division 1B defeat in a week on Laois as Conor Whelan’s brace continued Galway’s winning start to the season.
Both teams finished with 14 men as the All-Ireland champions had Greg Lally sent off for a straight red card for pulling a Laois player’s helmet just before half time, while in the same incident Laois midfielder James Ryan earned a second yellow card.
But with Ross King in superb form and causing huge trouble for the Galway defence, Laois were right in this game until the final few minutes. With six minutes remaining King hit his 12th point of the game to put a point between the sides, but Joseph Cooney fired his brilliant third and fourth points to take the game away from the home side.
Playing against a strong wind Galway fired a couple of early wides, but took control in the third minute when Whelan smashed his first goal when he was picked out by Davy Glennon.
After Eric Killeen got Laois on the board, King weighed in for his team and his 65 gave them the lead by the ninth minute, although Galway hit back thanks to points from Aidan Harte, Glennon and Padraig Brehony.
But six of the next seven points fell to Laois as they upped the intensity and began to find King inside in the full-forward line. Only a Conor Cooney free stemmed that tide, but six minutes from the interval Laois were 0-9 to 1-4 ahead.
The game’s controversial incident arrived in the 35th minute when both Lally and Ryan were sent off, although Laois seemed to think that their man was shown yellow in a case of mistaken identity. After a long delay, the game resumed, and Conor Cooney picked out Glennon, and he sent Whelan in for his second goal and a 2-6 to 0-10 halftime lead.
Despite the blow, Laois hit back well after the restart and four frees from King had themselves again by the 45th minute.
Joseph Coney the saw his flicked shot to come back off the crossbar as Galway threatened to pull clear, but King then twice put a point between the sides as Johnny Coen got in on the act for Galway.
But in the closing stages, Galway were strong. Joseph Cooney hit three points in the final 12 minutes, while Padraig Mannion took on the free-taking duties and finished with four points for his side as they eventually ran out easy winners.
Scorers – Galway: C Whelan 2-0, J Cooney 0-4, P Mannion 0-4 (3f), A Harte 0-3, C Cooney 0-3 (2f), J Coen, P Brehony, S Linnane, D Glennon 0-1 each.
Scorers – Laois: R King 0-12 (8f, 1’65), W Dunphy 0-2, E Rowland 0-1 (1f), E Killeen 0-1, M Kavanagh 0-1.
Galway: J Skehill; A Tuohey, J Hanbury, S Bannon; G Lally, P Mannion, A Harte; J Coen (c), P Brehony; C Mannion (B Concannon 51), S Linnane (S Cooney 61), J Cooney; C Whelan, C Cooney (N Burke 59), D Glennon.
Laois: E Rowland; D Hartnett, L Bergin (J Phelan 73), L Cleere; P Lawlor, M Whelan, E Killeen; J Ryan, A Corby (S Downey ht); C Taylor (J Keyes ht), B Conroy (M Kavanagh 53), P Purcell; R King (c), N Foyle (D McKane 58), W Dunphy.
Referee: P Murphy (Carlow).