Laois continued their winning start to 2011 under Justin McNulty, as they earned a five-point victory over Antrim at O'Moore Park yesterday.
The hosts made hard work of it, particularly after they lost influential midfielder Brendan Quigley to a straight red card early in the second half. Antrim couldn't take advantage, however, and Laois eventually pulled clear for the win.
With just over 30 minutes gone, Laois went ahead for the first time since the opening minute through a Niall Donoher point, and they looked a team transformed for the last five minutes of the half.
MJ Tierney calmly slotted over a free moments later, before a long ball in from the left-wing saw Tierney steal in behind the Antrim cover to flick the ball past Chris Kerr for the game's first goal. Donoher added another point, and Laois led 1-7 to 0-5 at the break.
That feel-good factor Laois finished the half with lasted all of five minutes on the restart, as Quigley was given a straight red card for an off-the-ball incident. That gave a numerical advantage to Antrim, but they never really made use of it.
Poor shooting let them down time and again, while Laois offered even less at the other end.
The home side went 27 second-half minutes without scoring, but once they found a path to goal, they really punished Antrim. Substitute Paul Cahillane broke the barren spell with a well-worked point, and further scores followed from Darren Strong (2), Gary Kavanagh and MJ Tierney to seal a hard-earned win.
Man of the Match -- Darren Strong (Laois).
SCORERS -- Laois: MJ Tierney 1-2 (0-1f), D Strong 0-3, Niall Donoher 0-2, B Quigley, J O'Loughlin, R Munnelly (1f), P Cahillane, G Kavanagh 0-1 each. Antrim: P Cunningham 0-5 (4f), K Brady 0-2, A Healy, K Niblock, C Murray 0-1 each.
LAOIS -- E Culleton 6; R Kehoe 7, K Meaney 7, D Booth 7; D Strong 8, S Julian 6, C Boyle 6; B Quigley 6, M Timmons 6; C Begley 6, J O'Loughlin 6, N Donoher 7; R Munnelly 6, B Sheehan 7, MJ Tierney 7. Subs: P O'Leary 6 for Boyle (54), P Cahillane 6 for Munnelly (54), G Kavanagh 7 for Sheehan (63).
ANTRIM -- C Kerr 8; A Healy 7, A McClean 5, K O'Boyle 6; T Scullion 6, J Crozier 6, C Murray 6; B Herron 6, S Burke 6; M Sweeney 5, K McGourty 6, T O'Neill 6; P Cunningham 6, K Brady 7, K Niblock 6. Subs: A Douglas 6 for McClean (10), A Gallagher 6 for Murray (47), T McCann 6 for Sweeney (56), E McNeill 5 for Herron (63).
Ref -- M Condon (Waterford).