Meaney comes off bench to steady ship for Laois
Justin McNulty's Laois side grinded out a slender three-point victory over Longford in a low-scoring encounter that did little to set the heart racing in front of a small attendance at Pearse Park.
The home side rued a series of missed opportunities in front of the sticks throughout the opening half-hour, as their free taker Sean McCormack, who is usually so potent from the dead ball, struggled to find any consistency over the course of this lacklustre affair.
Despite their lack of firepower, however, Glenn Ryan's outfit enjoyed a greater share of the spoils in the first half and held a three-point cushion at the turnover.
A brace of scores from Sean McCormack and Francis McGee gave the hosts the early initiative. The visitors responded swiftly when MJ Tierney slipped over a well-taken point from a tight position.
Longford dominated midway through the opening period, but a recurring theme of missed chances proved to be the midlanders' Achilles heel.
The home supporters took some comfort nonetheless in the fact that their defence held solid for long stages of the game and their full-back Barry Gilleran, in particular, marshalled his area of the field with an iron hand all afternoon.
The introduction of Kieran Lillis and Kevin Meaney for Laois at the interval stood them well and their presence was instantly recognisable.
A Donie Kingston point after the break started the Laois revival and two further points from Gary Walsh and Meaney drew them level with the hosts.
Over the following 10 minutes, the teams could not be separated. Longford's McCormack and Donal McElligott worked tirelessly in attack, but Laois started to enjoy more freedom in their forward line and eventually they took the lead for the first time in the game after their half-time substitute Meaney fired over a brilliant long-range point off his right side.
Beaming with a new air of confidence now, the visitors continued to push deeper into the heart of the Longford defence in search of further scores. Longford did try to withstand the onslaught, but ultimately the Laois attack proved too resilient and a brace of points from Colm Kelly made safe their victory.
Man of the Match: B Gilleran (Longford)
SCORERS – Laois: R Munnelly (1f), K Meaney, C Kelly (1f) 0-2 each, MJ Tierney, G Walsh, D Kingston 0-1 each. Longford: S McCormack 0-3 (2fs), D McElligott 0-2, F McGee 0-1 (f).
LAOIS – E Culliton 7; P O'Leary 7, D Booth 7, P Begley 7; D Strong 7, J O'Loughlin 7, P McMahon 7; B Quigley 6; C Boyle 7; R Munnelly 7, C Begley 7, B Sheehan 6; MJ Tierney 6, P Clancy 6, G Walsh 6, Subs: D Kingston 7 for P Clancy (24), K Lillis 6 for McMahon (h-t), K Meaney 7 for Quigley (h-t), D O'Connor 6 for Walsh (53), C Kelly 7 for Tierney (65),
LONGFORD – D Sheridan 7; D Brady 7, B Gilleran 8, D Reilly 7; C Smyth 6, F Battrim 6, S Mulligan 7; J Keegan 7, M Quinn 7; B McElvaney 7, D McElligott 7, M Brady 6; F McGee 7, D Barden 7, S McCormack 7. Subs: JJ Matthews for McGee (70), S Doyle for M Brady (70).
REF – M Collins (Cork).