Brennan's star turn bails McNulty out
Laois, winners of the shield two years ago, are through to the semi-final after a hard-earned victory over Athlone IT at Portarlington.
Justin McNulty oversaw his second competitive game in seven days and, as he had to do against Wicklow, called upon the more experienced players to bail him out.
Laois took a four-point lead after 10 minutes but Athlone IT came more into the game with points from Frankie Burke and David Egan and although Laois edged ahead again, they only led by the odd point in 13 at the break. Donie Brennan also missed a penalty after 15 minutes for Laois.
The second half saw the visitors take control and the lead after Brennan pointed for Laois. However, Brendan Quigley's introduction got Laois back in to contention and a late point sent the game into extra-time.
Laois then shot four unanswered points to lead at the break. The visitors stormed back with points from Egan and Burke but Laois had done enough to earn a place in the last four.
Scorers -- Laois: D Brennan 1-2, MJ Tierney 0-2 (1f), P Clancy, C Coss, B Fitzgerald, D Strong, M Finlay (1f),J Enright, G Kavanagh 0-1 each. Athlone IT: I Coffey 0-4 (3f), D Egan, (1f) F Burke (1f) 0-3 each, B Connors, C Shine 0-1 each.
LAOIS -- E Culliton; S Julian, D Booth, R Kehoe; P Begley, C Og Greene, N Donoher; P Clancy, C Coss; C Rogers, B Fitzgerald, D Strong; M Finlay, J Enright, D Brennan. Subs: B Quigley for Clancy (h-t), M Timmons for Og Greene (47), MJ Tierney for Enright, C Boyle for Booth (55), Gary Kavanagh for Fitzgerald (65), C Parkinson for Rogers (76), P Cahillane for Finlay (81).
ATLONE IT -- G Connaughton; M McCallon, C Duignan, C Duncan; M Mitchell, A Rowan, B Connors; G Dennigan, C Burke; D Egan, E Clarke, C Shine; F Burke, I Coffey. Subs: J Stapleton for Clarke (h-t), D Sammon for Coffey (41), D Malynn for Stapleton (55), F O'Reilly for Rowan (79).
Ref -- P Daly (Westmeath).