Bord Gáis Energy Leinster U-20 Hurling Championship
LAOIS 1-15 CARLOW 0-15
OFFALY 2-22 WESTMEATH 3-9
DUBLIN 2-22 ANTRIM 1-8
Dublin, Laois and Offaly all secured wins in the first round of the Bord Gáis Energy Leinster U-20 hurling championship tonight, but in very different fashions as Offaly and Dublin cruised to victory while Laois were pushed to the wire by a strong Carlow challenge at O’Moore Park.
The visiting side led by the bare minimum, 0-8 to 0-7, at half time in Portlaoise with Ciarán Kavanagh first hitting all four points as the Dolmen County went 0-4 to 0-2 in front, then hitting the last two before half time in response to a brief purple patch from Laois.
Ciaran Fitzpatrick extended the Carlow lead early in the second half but going to their bench proved crucial for Laois as they started to get back into the game. Ciaran Byrne narrowed the gap to one before half time substitute Ciaran Conroy floated over one of the scores of the evening from a narrow angle to level the game at nine points each.
Carlow then pulled two clear again and when James Doyle pointed to make it 0-12 to 0-10 at the water break, it was already clear that any goal would have a massive bearing on the game. It fell to Mark Hennessy, and once Laois hit the front they were never reeled in, eventually running out 1-15 to 0-15 winners.
Offaly didn’t have it all their own way in Kilcormac either, and after being rocked by the late withdrawal of senior panellists Brian Duignan, Ross Ravenhill and Killian Sampson before the game, first half goals from Danny McGrath and Rory Keyes (a penalty) helped Westmeath recover from an early six-point deficit to trail by just one point late in the first half. Cathal Kiely fired over two long range scores to make bring his 30-minute tally to seven and to push the interval lead out to 1-11 to 2-5, but with a deceptively strong breeze at their backs in the second half, Westmeath were well in contention.
A couple of dead ball wides cost them dearly however and once senior football panellist Cathal Donoghue exploded into life with four points from play in the third quarter, Offaly were out of sight. Cathal O’Meara goaled to push their lead out to 13 and they eased to a 2-22 to 3-9 win.
No-one knows when the quarter-finals of this contest will be, but once they do come around, an eagerly anticipated fixture will be the clash of Offaly and Dublin, following Dublin’s 2-22 to 1-8 win over Antrim at Darver.
Antrim hurling has been under a cloud with the entire panel getting tested for Covid-19, but they were competitive early on, and even after falling six points behind when Dublin goalkeeper Eddie Gibbons rifled in a penalty, they responded well through a goal of their own from Daire Murphy.
Micheál Murphy, Kevin Desmond (goalscorer), Liam Murphy and Dara Purcell were all in good scoring form for Dublin in an utterly one-sided second half however, as Dublin scored four of the first six points of the second half and then fired in 1-10 without reply to secure a comfortable win.
Offaly: Eamonn Cleary; Rory Carty, Conor Butler, Aaron Flanagan; Jack Screeney, Padraig Cantwell (0-01), Dara Maher; Luke Nolan (0-01), Kevin McDermott (0-01); Cathal Kiely (0-12, 0-07 frees), Cathal Donoghue (0-05), DJ McLoughlin; Lochlainn Kavanagh (0-01), Cathal O’Meara (1-00), Luke O’Connor (1-02).
Subs: Morgan Watkins for McLoughlin (45), Aaron Brazil for Cantwell (49), Dan Murray for O’Meara (54), Cathal Flynn for O’Connor (60).
Westmeath: Conor Lynch; Liam Moran, Feichin Óg Brennan, Conor Regan; Eoin Kiernan, Jack Gillen, Eanna Burke; Eoghan Ahearn, John Tumelty; Luke Moore, Rory Keyes (1-03, 1-00 pen, 0-03 frees), Eoin Daly (0-01); Danny McGrath (1-02), Conor Murphy, Owen McCabe (0-01).
Subs: Conor McKeogh (0-01) for Daly (34), Pearse Weir Norris (0-01) for Tumelty (42), Brendan McCarthy for Murphy (48), Jamie Coffey for Regan (49), Matthew Cunningham (1-00) for Moore (53).