Johnston's strike keeps Cavan on road to promotion
Cavan 1-17 Laois 0-15
In his post-match interview, Cavan manager Terry Hyland was keen to point out that his side were only in the same position as 12 months ago.
Last year, Cavan went into the final round with the possibility of promotion but in 2016 it's much more straightforward. If they beat Galway at home next weekend, they will join Tyrone in the top tier next year - quite the turnaround from a side that lost their opening two games.
It had been a very straight-forward afternoon for the home side, alarmingly so from a Laois point of view. The midlanders came here knowing that Armagh's point on Saturday night put them further into the relegation mire. By half-time they heard that Meath had secured a draw in Derry but they couldn't raise any sort of meaningful resistance.
They never led in the game and when Seanie Johnston grabbed the game's only goal on 15 minutes, it gave them a lead they never looked like losing. As it turned out, three points would be as close as Laois would get for the remainder of the game.
By the break, the Breffni men were four to the good (1-9 to 0-8) but they were more comfortable than that lead suggests with six different players getting on the score sheet.
Whatever hope Laois had probably went in that first half when they kicked eight wides and dropped another four short.
"They were unforgivable really, the ones into the 'keeper's hands," Laois manager Mick Lillis lamented afterwards. "To do it into the breeze is understandable, to do it with the breeze is unforgivable.
"That's a lack of confidence, someone trying to stroke it over the bar instead of driving it over the bar. You have to win to get that confidence or else be tough mentally, and we don't seem to have either at the minute, so it's a battle."
The second half followed a similar pattern. Cavan were able to find the scores they needed even if Hyland felt they should have killed the game off earlier.
"I'm happy with the win and that's what we wanted but I would say we've played better football in our last few games. Maybe we were a bit nervy in the second half when we should have been pushing on. But we have lots to work on for next week."
The spine of their young team is taking shape. Full-back Killian Clarke marshalled the various threats that came his way, including Donie Kingston, well. In front of him Conor Moynagh was both a destructive and creative presence. Gearoid McKiernan kicked three points from centre-forward, while Michael Argue and Johnston carried two very different types of threat inside.
Cavan could also pull the likes of Cian Mackey and Eugene Keating off the bench to help see out the game.
"We have a few lads back, Eugene, David Givney, Seanie, and it has helped. You have to allow for that the likes of Killian Clarke was only 21 last year and you can say they are only 22 this year but they have matured that little bit.
"There are lads pushing and our training games are strong. Jack Brady has been showing well in training and he got his chance today and he took it well. That's the model we are going with if lads are performing in training they will get a chance."
Cavan welcome Galway to Breffni next weekend and Hyland admitted playing in the top flight would be a significant step for his team.
"It (promotion) is very important for us, we have been building for the last three or four years and we have a young enough squad to go up, it's not like it's a team going up in their late 20s, we have lads that are young and we hope and believe they will be fit to compete with the teams in Division 1 but we have to get there first."
Laois's status is no longer in their hands. They welcome Meath to O'Moore Park next Sunday but they'll need to win that and hope for favours elsewhere to stay up.
"It's not in our own hands. Obviously we need to get a result in the last game, as do Meath, and then we need other results to go in our favour.
"We were always in the game but chasing all the time. We don't seem to be able to get our noses in front. Look, it hasn't been a good league and there's no disguising that. All we can do is keep trying. You can't pack up the tent and go home."
SCORERS - Cavan: S Johnston 1-3 (3f), G McKiernan 0-3, M Argue, J Brady 0-2 each, C Brady, C Moynagh, T Corr, L Buchanan, D Givney, M Reilly, R Galligan (1 '45) 0-1 each.
Laois: J O'Loughlin 0-4, D Kingston (3f), E O'Carroll (2f) 0-3 each, R Munnelly (2f) 0-2, K Meaney, D O'Connor, C Begley 0-1 each.
Cavan - R Galligan 8; P Faulkner 7, K Clarke 8, J McLoughlin 7; C Brady 7, C Moynagh 7, K Brady 7; T Corr 7, L Buchanan 7; D McVeety 8, G McKiernan 8, M Reilly 7; D Givney 7, M Argue 7, S Johnston 7 Subs: E Keating 6 for Johnston (47), C Mackey 6 for Argue (52), N Murray 6 for Moyna (56), J Brady 8 for Buchanan (57), J Hayes for K Brady (66), R Dunne for Givney (70)
Laois - G Brody 7; R Kehoe 7, M Timmons 6, S Attride 6; D Strong 6, C Begley 6, G Dillon 6; B Quigley 6, K Meaney 6; C Meredith 7, J O'Loughlin 8, N Donoher 7; E O'Carroll 7, D Kingston 7, P Kingston 6 Subs: J Farrell 6 for Meaney (BC, 34), A Farrell 6 for Dillon (h-t), R Munnelly 6 for P Kingston (52), D O'Reilly 6 for Meredith, D O'Connor 6 for Kehoe (both 56), N Murphy for O'Carroll (61).
Ref - P O'Sullivan (Kerry)