Luke Dempsey's four-year reign as Carlow manager ended after his brave side were pipped by Laois in the first round of the qualifiers at Portlaoise last night.
There's a low level of expectation around Laois these days -- only 2,479 turned up to O'Moore Park -- and the home side clearly lacked confidence and poise during a frenetic and disjointed 70 minutes against the Division 4 side.
It took a point from play and two late frees from substitute MJ Tierney to see them home, while John O'Loughlin's 1-1 was also crucial in sending them through to the second round. But they won't be one bit happy with this display.
Laois did conjure up a lovely goal after 18 minutes, however, with O'Loughlin slotting home a great team goal from one yard out. At half-time the game was all square, 1-4 to 0-7.
After the break, Carlow continued to cause Laois problems, mainly through the outstanding midfield work of Brendan Murphy and Sean Gannon, who had the beating of Kieran Lillis at full-forward.
With 25 minutes left, Carlow went ahead by a point and tension hung in the air until the final minutes. But Laois pulled through.
Scorers -- Laois: J O'Loughlin 1-1, MJ Tierney 0-3 (2f), R Munnelly 0-2 (1f), B Quigley, D O'Connor, C Kelly, D Conway (f) 0-1 each; Carlow: B Murphy 0-5 (3f), JJ Smith (2f), D St Ledger (1f) 0-2 each.
Laois: E Culliton; C Healy, K Lillis, J Kavanagh; D Strong, C Boyle, B Quigley; K Meaney, J O'Loughlin; D O'Connor, C Begley, G Walsh; R Munnelly, P Clancy, C Kelly. Subs: D Conway for G Walsh (34), P Cahillane for D Strong (43), MJ Tierney for C Kelly (49)
Carlow: T O'Reilly; P Murphy, C Lawlor, B Kavanagh; K Nolan, B Lambe, T Bolger; Brendan Murphy, D Foley; Brian Murphy, P Reid, E Ruth; JJ Smith, S Gannon, D St Ledger. Subs: D Hayden for P Reid (53), K Jackson for B Murphy (60), P McElligott for T Bolger (70)
Referee: S Doyle (Wexford).