Laois end year on a high as they keep seat at top table for 2022

Westmeath had Aaron Craig sent off five minutes before half-time and missed a penalty in injury-time
Laois end year on a high as they keep seat at top table for 2022

Jack Kelly of Laois celebrates a point late in the game during the Allianz League Division 1 relegation play-off. Picture: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Laois 1-27 Westmeath 0-27

After a drama-filled encounter in O'Moore Park, Laois have retained their Allianz League Division 1 status with a three-point win over Westmeath.

After beating Antrim to stay in the Liam MacCarthy Cup, it was a year of double survival for Cheddar Plunkett's men as they now close the book on 2021 and look forward to what 2022 brings.

Westmeath had Aaron Craig sent off five minutes before half-time and missed a penalty in injury-time while Laois also had Willie Dunphy sent off late on.

Westmeath were on course for victory at the interval and even heading into the final quarter hour, they led by six points with the immense Niall O'Brien, who finished with seven points from play, to the fore.

But Laois came out a different animal after the second-half water break and hit seven unanswered points, five off the hurl of PJ Scully as they moved into the lead with eight minutes to play.

There were plenty of twists left though. Westmeath got it back level coming near the 70 minute mark but a point from Willie Dunphy, just before he was dismissed, and two from Jack Kelly looked to have them safe.

With four minutes of injury-time played, Westmeath bombed forward and Davy Glennon was dragged down for a penalty. Derek McNicholas stood over the ball but drove it high and over the bar much to the relief of the home crowd.

In a fitting end, the last score fell to the in form PJ Scully who landed his 17th point and a three point win for Cheddar Plunkett's men.

It is a big blow for Westmeath who after winning the Joe McDonagh Cup last weekend to move into the Leinster Championship in 2022, will now play Division 2 as they prepare for the MacCarthy Cup campaign.

Scorers for Laois: PJ Scully 0-17 (0-10f and 0-4 '65), R King 1-2, C Dwyer 0-3, W Dunphy and J Kelly 0-2 each, P Purcell 0-1.

Scorers for Westmeath: K Doyle 0-11 (0-7f and 0-1 '65), N O'Brien 0-7, D McNicholas 0-3 (0-1 pen), C Doyle 0-2, A Clarke, J Boyle, N Mitchell and K Regan 0-1 each.

LAOIS: E Rowland; D Hartnett, M Whelan, S Downey; P Delaney, C McEvoy, F C Fennell; J Keyes, J Kelly; P Purcell, C Dwyer, C Collier; W Dunphy, PJ Scully, R King.

Subs: A Dunphy for C Collier (27), J Ryan for M Whelan (ht), C Comerford for J Keyes (58), E Gaughan for A Dunphy (70), J Lennon for P Purcell (70+4).

WESTMEATH: N Conaty; D Egerton, T Gallagher, C Shaw; A Craig, T Doyle, A Clarke; C Boyle, R Greville; D Glennon, K Doyle, J Boyle; C Doyle, N O’Brien, N Mitchell.

Subs: J Coll for C Boyle (ht), K Regan for J Boyle (ht), D McNicholas for C Doyle (49), S Clavin for C Shaw (55), D Clinton for J Coll (66), S Williams for K Doyle (70).

REFEREE: Patrick Murphy (Carlow).

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