Laois show 'great character' to hold Armagh at bay
Laois 1-13 Armagh 0-15
Laois may have to some extent surrendered their more silken skills and finesse at the altar of solid commitment and admirable character but the handsome dividend they derived from this feisty, all-action encounter could yet prove invaluable.
League points come no harder won than this and Laois manager Mick Lillis will surely be content to establish his side's unremitting effort as a template for the remainder of the competition.
"The lads showed great character," he said. "We were against the wind in the second half but we held out."
That they did was due in no small measure to a stubborn defence, the guile and creativity of skipper Donie Kingston, text-book support play for the most part and the sheer intensity and sublime finishing that Evan O'Carroll and Paul Cahillane provided up front.
Cahillane's thunderous goal from a 13th-minute penalty helped hoist Laois into a 1-7 to 0-6 interval after Stefan Campbell's early points blitz had proved something of a false dawn for the home side.
But there was nothing artificial about their second-half renaissance when Campbell was joined by Micheal McKenna, Ethan Rafferty, Gavin McParland and Shea Heffron in reining in their opponents to such an extent that they were left clinging perilously to a 1-11 to 0-13 lead.
Yet even the loss of Jamie Farrell to a red card failed to undermine the Laois spirit in the closing stages as a Kingston point from a free and another from an O'Carroll '45' ultimately proved critical in easing them over the line.
Man of the match: Paul Cahillane
Scorers - Laois: P Cahillane 1-2 (1-0 pen, 0-1f), D Kingston 0-5 (3fs), E O'Carroll 0-3, G Walsh (f), M Campion, N Donoher 0-1 each. Armagh: S Campbell 0-6 (4fs), M McKenna 0-3, G McParland 0-2 (1f), A Forker, N Grimly, S Heffron, E Rafferty 0-1 each.
Laois - G Brody 7; R Kehoe 6, M Timmons 7, D Seale 7; D Strong 7, P Cotter 6, G Dillon 7; K Lillis 8, K Meaney 6; J Farrell 7, D Kingston 8, N Donoher 7; P Cahillane 9, E O'Carroll 8, G Walsh 7. Subs: M Campion 7 for Meaney (17), A Farrell for Cotter (33), D O'Connor 6 for Strong (54), D O'Reilly 5 for Walsh (55), R O'Connor 5 for Campion (57).
Armagh - N McNeice 6; S Heffron 7, C Vernon 7, R McCaughley 6; S Forker 6, A Forker 7, M Shields 7; A Findon 7, N McConville 6; S Campbell 8, M McKenna 7, S Sheridan 7; C Watters 7, C O'Hanlon 6, G McParland 6. Subs: E Rafferty 6 for McConville (h-t), E McVerry 5 for McParland (47), N Grimley 5 for Sheridan (50), J McElroy 5 for S Forker (60), Oisin MacIomhair 5 for Watters (61), S Connell 5 for McCaughley (68).
Ref - B Cassidy (Derry).