Laois retain Division 1B status with win over Westmeath
Allianz National Hurling League Division 1B promotion/relegation
play-off: Laois 0-23 Westmeath 0-16
WITH seven points to spare over Westmeath on Sunday, Laois comfortably retained their NHL Division 1B status.
PJ Scully contributed 10 points (six frees) and Cha Dwyer six from play to the O'Moore county's impressive finishing total. The result was a real shot in the arm for for Seamus Plunkett’s men who hadn't won any of their five games in the Division and who also lost last week’s 1B relegation play-off to Kerry. The win means that they will remain in Division 1B for the fourth consecutive year.
For Westmeath, it was more end of season agony after last year's Division 2A final loss to Kerry. In the first-half of the contest, Laois, despite fielding without the injured Zane Keenan and the suspended Willie Hyland caught the eye up front with five of their forwards finding the target from play.
But the star of the show was Niall O'Brien, who fired over six points from play in the first half to ensure that Westmeath led 0-12 to 0-11 at the break. Indeed, the Lake county could have been further ahead but for some laboured play in defence. Four of their opponents points were as a direct result of mistakes.
In the second-half, Keenan did make an appearance as Laois came flying out of the blocks. Dwyer and Scully were both on target from play in the first 40 seconds giving the home side a lead that they never lost from that point.
Westmeath's Liam Varley saw an effort at goal go wide in the 38th minute only for Laois to respond with a brilliant Dwyer point from out on the left wing. With 10 minutes to go, Laois, with Scully unerring from frees, were in command as they led by five points.
Additional scores from Keenan, Dwyer and Mark Kavanagh wrapped up a vital win.