King punishes Kingdom to secure shot at Wexford
Kerry 3-15 Laois 2-21
Laois secured their third straight win in this round-robin qualifier to book a date with Wexford in the Leinster Championship quarter-finals.
The O'Moore men were greatly assisted by Kerry giving away silly frees in this enthralling battle at Austin Stack Park.
Laois manager Eamonn Kelly was delighted with the result.
"Psychologically it was a big one coming down here because when we came down here on February 12 for the league meeting we got turned over," he said.
"The players felt they owed it to themselves to go out and perform and I think they did that. We had a patchy enough first half considering we gave away two goals, but they stuck to their task well."
Laois sharpshooter Ross King had a field-day, converting 11 of 12 frees, while Kerry missed six scoreable frees.
Kerry and Laois traded scores throughout the opening half, with King scoring four frees after opening his side's account with a score from play with just 40 seconds on the clock.
Points from the impressive Paddy Purcell and Aaron Dunphy were complemented by a Neil Foyle goal after three minutes.
But Kerry rallied well, with Mikey Boyle and Jordan Conway raising white flags from play and Shane Nolan hitting five points from frees to keep them in touch approaching half-time.
Then they hit Laois with a two-goal salvo from Nolan in first-half injury-time and Kerry had the momentum as they went in 2-8 to 1-7 in front.
Kerry took an age to reappear for the second period and Laois made them pay with three rapid points, two by King after the hosts gave away needless frees.
Paddy Purcell hit the Kerry net and then the Kingdom lost Sean Weir to a second yellow card.
Down three points and a man, it was always going to be a mammoth task to get the win.
To their credit Kerry gave it everything, with Boyle drilling a free to the net but King kept punishing them and they came up short by three points.
Scorers - Kerry: S Nolan 2-6 (0-4fs, 1 '65), M Boyle 1-1, P Boyle (2f) and B Murphy 0-2, P O'Connor, J Buckley, P Lucid and J Conway 0-1 each. Laois: R King 0-13 (11fs, 1 '65), P Purcell 1-2, N Foyle 1-0, S Downey, A Dunphy, S Maher, A Corby, M Kavanagh and S Bergin 0-1 each.
KERRY: M Stackpoole 8 ; J O'Connor 8 , R Horgan 8 , S Weir 5 ; J Buckley 8 , D Dineen 8 , T Murnane 7 ; J Goulding 7 , P O'Connor 7 ; B O'Leary 8, M O'Leary 7, J Conway 7; P Boyle 7 , M Boyle 8, S Nolan 8. Subs: J Griffin 6 for J Goulding (58), M O'Connor 6 for J Conway (60), B Murphy 7 for T Murnane (64), P Lucid 7 for S Nolan (66).
LAOIS - E Rowland 7; L Cleere 7, L Bergin 8, D Palmer 8; C Collier 7, C Dwyer 8, M Whelan 7: R King 9, P Purcell 8; S Downey 7, R Mullaney 6, P Whelan 6 ; A Dunphy 6 , N Foyle 7 , S Maher 6 . Subs: J Lennon 7 for P Whelan (31), A Corby 7 for R Mullaney (h-t), M Kavanagh 7 for S Downey (56), S Bergin 6 for S Maher (63), B Corby 6 for N Foyle (68).
REF - A Kelly (Galway).