A storming first-half display was instrumental in Laois’ 3-17 to 2-16 defeat of neighbours Offaly at O’Moore Park.
Eddie Brennan’s men reeled off 2-7 without reply in the first half as they closed in on a potential quarter-final berth whilst consigning the struggling Faithful County – who salvaged some pride with an improved display in the second period – to a relegation battle.
Laois did all the damage in that first half with the wind at their backs, two Willie Dunphy goals propelling them into an unassailable 2-13 to 0-6 interval advantage.
Offaly actually led before Dunphy struck for his first major in the 13th minute to make it 1-3 to 0-4. The second Laois goal arrived in the 17th minute and was followed by a run of points from Mark Kavanagh (who was on target ten times), John Lennon, Stephen Maher (2) and Aaron Dunphy.
The Faithfuls improved upon the restart, with Shane Dooley introduced as a half-time substitute, Colm Gath notching their first goal on 38 minutes. Maher hit the O'Moore County's clinching third goal after Paddy Purcell’s effort was saved and the hosts held on for a deserved victory despite a late Joe Bergin three-pointer from a free.
Laois - E Rowland; J Phelan, M Whelan, D Hartnett; J Kelly, R Mullaney, J Cranney; J Lennon (0-1), S Downey; A Dunphy (0-3), E Lyons (0-1), P Purcell; M Kavanagh (0-10, 8f, 1sl), W Dunphy (2-0), S Maher (1-2). Subs: M Dowling for W Dunphy, C Phelan for E Lyons, E Gaughan for A Dunphy, L Burke for J Cranney, P Delaney for S Downey.
Offaly - E Cahill (0-1f); B Conneely, N Houlihan, T Spain; A Flynn, P Camon (0-1), E Grogan; S Kinsella, M Egan (0-2); D Egan, P Murphy (0-1), C Egan; K Connolly (0-1), J Bergin (1-7, 1-6f), C Gath (1-0). Subs: S Dooley (0-3, 2f) for D Egan, S Dolan for P Murphy, A Treacy for T Spain, P Rigney for E Grogan, K Dunne for S Kinsella.
Referee - A Kelly.Tweet