Laois set up a Leinster senior football clash with Dublin thanks to a narrow one point win over Longford in Portlaoise. In truth, Longford, who had 16 wides will be disappointed not to be in the draw for the quarterfinal after, but Laois were the more clinical when the opportunities came their way.
In sunny conditions but with a strong breeze behind them Laois got the game underway and quickly established a three point lead, with Daithi Carroll scoring just 11 seconds into this Championship debut followed by Billy Sheehan double inside the first 7 minutes.
Longford were struggling to get on the ball with their midfield distribution letting them down, when they did get on the ball the Longford forward were being marshalled brilliantly by the Laois defence, in the end it took 11 minutes before they got off the mark, Sean McCormack with a free.
MJ Tierney then restored Laois 3 point advantage with an excellent score on 14 minutes before McCormack and Carroll both exchanged points, there second of the afternoon as Laois took a 05-02 lead after 15 minutes.
A fine fisted effort from the impressive McCormack reduced the deficit to 2 however Paddy McDowd missed a straight chance to bring the score down further as the wide count began to take shape.
Carroll showed Longford how to finish as he grabbed his third and Laois led 06-03 before Damien Sheridan blasted two 45 wide in a matter of minutes before Martin Brady scored when maybe he might have got a goal to take Longford in at the break two points down.
Longford came out in the second half full of purpose although there cause might have been aided had Billy Sheehan seen more than a yellow card for an elbow on David Barden. The wides were building up for Longford although points from McElvanney and McCormack levelled the scores as Laois went on a 25 minute scoring drought that was ended by the debutant Carroll with a fine kick and minutes later Niall Donoher finally found his shooting boots with a point to extend the lead to 08-06.
Ross Munnelly increased that to 09 points before McCormack once again dragged Longford back into it. McCormack sent a free kick wide before adding a simple kick shortly after to reduce the lead to one with 7 minutes remaining.
In between those McCormack efforts Colm Begley had hit the post before Donoher stretched lead again to two, again it was reduced back to one with just two minutes to go as Brian Kavanagh, who had led the line well, scored.
In the end Longford couldn’t find the point they needed for extra time and Laois held to secure the Dublin date although on this performance there will be plenty of work to be done between now and then.
Laois: Eoin Culleton; Cahir Healy, Kevin Meaney, Mark Timmons; Darren Strong, Shane Julian, Peter O’Leary; Colm Begley, Brendan Quigley; Daithi Carroll (0-4), John O’Loughlin, Niall Donoher (0-2); Ross Munnelly (0-1), Billy Sheehan (0-2), Michael John Tierney (0-1). Subs: Ciaran Lillis, Donie Kingston, Conor Boyle, Padraig Clancy.
Longford: Damien Sheridan; Dermot Brady, Barry Gilleran, Declan Reilly; Shane Mulligan, Kevin Diffley, Noel Farrell; Bernard McElvanney (0-1), Martin Brady (0-1); David Barden, Paddy Dowd, Paul Barden; Donal McElligott, Brian Kavanagh (0-1), Sean McCormack (0-6). Subs: Francis McGee, Peter Foy, John O’Shea, Diarmuid Masterson.
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