Foyle and Ross deliver for Laois

Laois 2-12 Antrim 0-21

Laois kept their promotion hopes alive but a lack of intensity in the third quarter almost proved disastrous, although they did respond afterwards , scoring their entire second-half tally of 2-8 in the last 20 minutes.

Laois led 0-13 to 0-8 at the break and were playing well within themselves as Antrim played with just four forwards, leaving Brian Stapleton and Matthew Whelan to their own devices.

The visitors did have plenty of possession though and in Conor Johnson, had one of the game’s top performers. The St John’s man finished with seven points from play, while midfielder Paul Shiels was excellent with his long-range free-taking.

The duo gave Antrim an early two-point advantage but Ross King, who was a constant threat for Laois in the opening half, scored four points as the Moores moved three clear.

Neil McManus had been the Saffrons’ chief scoring threat in recent years but he was operating at right-half back, marking Willie Hyland. That didn’t prevent him getting on the scoresheet but three points from Tommy Fitzgerald helped the victors pull ahead for a 0-13 to 0-8 half-team lead.

Antrim rocketed out of the traps at the start of the second-half though and Shiels had three points inside four points, two of which came from huge distances. Substitute, PJ O’Connell and Johnson (two) made it six points without reply and Kevin Ryan’s charges were in front.

King levelled with Laois’ first score of the half in the 51st minute and Stephen Maher followed up quickly.

The key score arrived seconds later, as substitute Foyle buried the ball in the Antrim net with a slick ground stroke.

Points followed from Hyland, King and John Purcell but Antrim wouldn’t yield easily and they hit back with points of their own from Ciaran Clarke, Shiels and Conor Carson to keep them in contention.

A King goal four minutes from time finally ended the Antrim resistance and they remain pointless after three rounds, while Laois are just a point off the top of the table.

Scorers for Laois: R King 1-7(0-5fs); T Fitzgerald, C Dwyer 0-3 each; N Foyle 1-0; J Purcell, PJ Scully 0-2 each; J Fitzpatrick, M Whelan(f), W Hyland, S Maher 0-1 each

Antrim scorers: C Johnson 0-7; P Shiels 0-6(4fs); C Carson, C Clarke(fs), PJ O’Connell 0-2 each; N McManus, R McCambridge 0-1 each

LAOIS: E Reilly; JA Delaney, B Stapleton, B Camption, J Fitzpatrick, M Whelan, c Dunne, P Whelan, C Collier, W Dunphy, J Purcell, C Dwyer, R King, D Palmer, T Fitzgerald.

Subs: S Maher for Collier (24), P Purcell for P Whelan (45), N Foyle for Palmer (51), PJ Scully for Palmer blood (52-54), Scully for Fitzgerald inj (53), B Reddin for King (68)

ANTRIM: C O’Connell; C Johnston, C McKinley, O McFadden, E Campbell, N McCauley, N McManus, C Carson, C Johnston, P Shiels, N McKenna, C McCann, C Clarke, D Hamill, D McKernan.

Subs: PJ O’Connell for McCann blood (20-24), O’Connell for McKernan (26), S Beatty for McKenna (44), T McCann for C McCann (56), R McCambridge for Clarke (56)

Referee: J Keenan (Wicklow).

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