Laois 3-14 Westmeath 1-9
Laois made an immediate return to division 1B with a comprehensive victory over Westmeath in the division 2A hurling final at O'Connor Park.
Seamus 'Cheddar' Plunkett's side were too strong throughout and two goals in eight first-half minutes from John Brophy clinched promotion for the O'Moore County men.
And when Tommy Fitzgerald rattled the net 15 minutes into the second-half the result was beyond doubt, despite Brendan Murtagh's late goal for Westmeath.
Derek McNicholas got Westmeath off the mark in the first minute, but after Willie Hyland drew Laois level they hit a massive blow to the Lakesmen in the second minute when John Brophy burst through the heart of their defence to rattle the net.
McNicholas and John Shaw both hit points to keep Westmeath in touch, but Cahir Healy – who recently left the Laois football panel – hit a super point, which was followed by the returning Zane Keenan to open their lead out to three points.
And by the tenth minute that advantage was doubled when Brophy hit his second goal, this time he cut in from the left wing and cruised past the Westmeath cover to open out a 2-3 to 0-3 lead.
The scores from play were scarce on the ground throughout the first half and the remaining points until the half-time break all came from dead balls as Stephen Maher and captain Matthew Whelan both hit two each as Laois led by 2-7 to 0-6 at half-time.
On the resumption Maher added his third free of the game, which was responded to by McNicholas with one of his own for Westmeath, but there was no doubting Laois' superiority.
For many years Willie Hyland has been the shining light of Laois hurling and he reminded everyone why in the 39th minute when he hit his second point from play of the game.
And after Maher and McNicholas exchanged frees again, Laois struck the mortal blow in the 50th minute when full-forward Tommy Fitzgerald hit the net with a crisp ground stroke.
Indeed conceding a third goal was particularly harsh on Westmeath goalkeeper Peter Collins who had pulled off a terrific double save to deny substitute Neil Foyle and Zane Keenan, before Fitzgerald cleared up the rebound.
Two minutes later Murtagh hit the net from a deflected 20-metre free, but there was no doubting the winners as Westmeath lost the promotion final for the second year in a row.
Laois: S Maher 0-7 (7f), J Brophy 2-0, T Fitzgerald 1-0, W Hyland 0-3, M Whelan 0-2 (2f), C Healy & Z Keenan 0-1 each.
Westmeath: D McNichols 0-6 (6f), B Murtagh 1-2 (1-2f), J Shaw 0-1.
Laois: E Reilly: B Stapleton, B Campion, JA Delaney; J Fitzpatrick, M Whelan, G Burke; C Healy, J Walsh; S Maher, Z Keenan, W Hyland; J Brophy, T Fitzgerald, B Dunne.
Subs: N Foyle for Brophy (46), C Dunne for Hyland (67), D Maher for Stapleton (70).
Westmeath: P Collins; N Keegan, Adam Price, P Fennell; P Gilsenan, C Jordan, D Fennell; E Price, S Power; R Greville, A McGrath, D McNicholas; N O'Brien, B Murtagh, J Shaw.
Subs: T Gallagher for Keegan (12), G Greville for Gilsenan (33), T Doyle for Fennell (35), Anthony Price for McNicholas (54), J Clarke for Shaw (59).
Referee: Shane Hourigan (Limerick)