It was another dramatic afternoon of Leinster Senior Hurling Championship action.
Laois maintained their 100% record this season with a three point victory away to Kerry, while Westmeath came through in second place on score difference after a pulsating win against Meath at TEG Cusack Park.
The quarter-final draw was held minutes after the games concluded, and it produced the following pairings.
Westmeath v Offaly (to be played in Mullingar on Saturday, 27th May)
Laois v Wexford (to be played in Portlaoise on Sunday, 28th May).
Leinster GAA Senior Hurling Championship Qualifier Group
|LAOIS||3||3||0||0||6-69 (87)||7-45 (66)||+21||6|
|WESTMEATH||3||1||0||2||5-47 (62)||1-62 (65)||– 3||2|
|KERRY||3||1||0||2||5-52 (67)||7-53 (74)||– 7||2|
|MEATH||3||1||0||2||5-52 (67)||6-60 (78)||– 11||2|
Round 1: Meath 3-20, Kerry 2-17; Laois 1-23, Westmeath 2-17
Round 2: Laois 3-25, Meath 2-13; Kerry 0-20, Westmeath 2-12
Round 3: Westmeath 1-18, Meath 0-19; Laois 2-21, Kerry 3-15
Laois Storm Past Kerry In Second Half
Laois 2-21, Kerry 3-15
Two goals in first half injury-time by Shane Nolan gave Kerry four points’ breathing space at the interval in Austin Stack Park.
But Laois came out with all guns blazing after the break and helped by a Patrick Purcell goal, they went back in front by two points in the 41st minute.
With Ross King accurate from frees and Kerry reduced to 14 players, Laois soon extended their lead to six points.
Mikey Boyle threw Kerry a lifeline with a goal from a 25 metre free, but they couldn’t get closer than three points to snatch a draw which would have sent them through.
Before Nolan broke through for his goals, the first half had been a tight affair, with Kerry battling back well following the concession of an early goal by Neil Foyle.
But Laois have been the in-form team in this group all through and gained the upper hand on Kerry for the second time in recent weeks, having also triumphed in the Allianz League Division 1B relegation play-off.
Laois Scorers: Ross King 0-13 (11fs, 1 ’65’), Patrick Purcell 1-2, Neil Foyle 1-0, Sean Downey 0-1, Aaron Dunphy 0-1, Stephen Maher 0-1, Aidan Corby 0-1, Mark Kavanagh 0-1, Stephen Bergin 0-1.
Kerry Scorers: Shane Nolan 2-6 (4fs, 165), Mikey Boyle 1-1 (1-0f), Padraig Boyle 0-2 (2fs), James O’Connor 0-1, John Buckley 0-1, Jordan Conway 0-1, Bryan Murphy 0-1, John Griffin 0-1, Philip Lucid 0-1.
LAOIS: Enda Rowland, Lee Cleere, Leigh Bergin, Dwane Palmer, Ciaran Collier, Charles Dywer, Matthew Whelan, Ross King, Patrick Purcell, Sean Downey, Ryan Mullaney, Paddy Whelan, Aaron Dunphy, Neil Foyle, Stephen Maher. Subs: John Lennon for P Whelan (inj, 32 mins), Aidan Corby for R Mullaney (HT), Mark Kavanagh for Sean Downey (57 min), Stephen Bergin for S Maher (64 mins), Brian Corby for N Foyle (69 mins).
KERRY: Martin Stackpoole, James O’Connor, Rory Horgan, Sean Weir, John Buckley, Darren Dineen, Tom Murnane, Jack Goulding, Paudie O’Connor, Brendan O’Leary, Michael O’Leary, Jordan Conway, Padraig Boyle, Mikey Boyle, Shane Nolan. Subs: John Griffin for J Goulding (58 mins), Maurice O’Connor for J Conway (60 mins), Bryan Murphy for T Murnane (64 mins), Philip Lucid for S Nolan (68 mins).
Westmeath Overcome The Odds To Progress
Westmeath 1-18, Meath 0-19
Westmeath were rooted to the bottom of the table before the throw-in today but even though they lost their opening two matches, the narrow margins of defeat meant they were still in the hunt for a quarter-final place.
And they progressed on score difference thanks to a nerve-wracking victory over Meath by 1-18 to 0-19 at TEG Cusack Park.
Westmeath led by 0-9 to 0-6 at half time, but Meath were possibly the happier side at that stage considering the wind was in their favour for the second 35 minutes and the hosts had been reduced to 14 players.
Meath did reduce the gap to just a point by the 50th minute, but then Killian Doyle fired home the game’s only goal and Westmeath grew in confidence. With Tommy Doyle again inspirational at full back, they went seven points ahead and looked home and dry.
But Meath refused to wilt and got their deficit down to two points in a pulsating closing period. However, they couldn’t get through for the goal they needed and Westmeath deservedly held out.
Westmeath Scorers: A Devine 0-9 (6fs), K Doyle 1-3, R Greville and A Clarke 0-2 each, D McNicholas and C Boyle 0-1 each.
Meath Scorers: S Clynch 0-5 (3fs), A Gannon 0-4, K Keoghan, J Kelly, D Kelly (1f) and S Quigley (2fs) 0-2 each, M O’Sullivan and G McGowan 0-1 each.
WESTMEATH: P Maloney; S Power, T Doyle, T Gallagher; A Craig, P Greville, C Shaw; A Clarke, G Greville; D McNicholas, K Doyle, C Boyle; A Devine, N Mitchell, R Greville. Subs: N O’Brien for Gallagher (54), J Boyle for Mitchell (64), J Galvin for K Doyle (66), D Egerton for Shaw (70+2).
MEATH: S McGain; S Whitty, D Kelly, C Reilly; S Brennan, D Healy, K Keoghan; A Forde, S Geraghty; S Clynch, J Keena, K Keena; M O’Sullivan, N Heffernan, A Gannon. Subs: J Kelly for K Keena (26), G McGowan for Heffernan (35+1), S Quigley for J Keena (57), C McCabe for O’Sullivan (59), P Kelly for Clynch (65).