Laois 0-20 Carlow 0-13
Laois manager Teddy McCarthy knows a thing or two about class players and the former Cork dual star was full of praise for wing-forward Willie Hyland after he steered his team past this tricky test.
Hyland shot 0-13 at Dr Cullen Park on Saturday night as relegated Laois advanced to a quarter-final meeting with Dublin.
"Willie is a superb player and he wears his Laois heart on his sleeve. But if Henry Shefflin played like that, you'd be talking about it for the next six years. He was outstanding," enthused the Laois boss.
And McCarthy had plenty to get excited about. A personal tally of 0-13 from the Clough-Ballacolla man was laced with superb points as the Carlow defence failed to lay a hand on Hyland throughout the 70 minutes.
But McCarthy is expecting a stiffer test from Anthony Daly's side in a fortnight's time.
"We have achieved the win over Carlow, but we know the task that is ahead of us against Dublin," warned McCarthy.
"Dublin are one of the top three teams in the country at the moment. Looking at their league you wouldn't think so, but deep down I think that they are solely basing their whole year on the championship. But that's where we want to be, we want to prove ourselves against the best."
Nine years have now passed since Carlow's last Leinster championship win over Meath, and manager Kevin Ryan was left to reflect on a return to their old habits as frailties in front of goal reared their head once more.
"We weren't with the pace for the first 15 minutes and there was a good bit of damage done by that stage. It was back to the old problem of not being able to convert the chances," admitted Ryan.
"Ten minutes into the second half, we should have been back level. I believe if we were level or a point or two up going into the last 10 minutes, being at home would have done a lot for us."
Yet despite all the Laois domination, Carlow could have closed to within two points of the visitors with more than 20 minutes remaining, but a penalty from Carlow goalkeeper Frank Foley was well saved by his outstanding opposite number Eoin Reilly.
And, as Laois went on to add four points in four minutes at the other end, the Carlow chins hit their chests and their challenge ended in a whimper. Both sides finished the match with 14 men as midfielders Jack Kavanagh of Carlow and James Walsh of Laois picked up second yellow cards in the second half for an off-the-ball incident.
Just five points separated the sides at half-time, 0-12 to 0-7, but three late frees from the impressive Marty Kavanagh (two) and a booming Shane Kavanagh strike had slightly skewed the true picture of Carlow's display. But credit should go to the Carlow rearguard. The Laois full-forward line failed to register a score throughout and only for the class of Hyland and some fine shooting from Stephen Maher their meanness at the back could have produced dividends.
However, the McCarthy reign is up and running and with a spring in their step the sky blues had better beware.
Scorers -- Laois: W Hyland 0-13 (6f), S Maher 0-3, E Reilly 0-2 (2f), B Dunne, J Walsh 0-1 each. Carlow: M Kavanagh 0-7 (7f), S Kavanagh (1f, 1 '65'), A Gaule 0-2 each, J Kavanagh, D Roberts 0-1 each.
Laois -- E Reilly 8; C Coonan 7, D Maher 6, G Burke 7; C Dunne 7, M Whelan 7, M McEvoy 8; J Walsh 5, S Hanlon 7; S Maher 8, B Dunne 6, W Hyland 9; T Fitzgerald 6, N Foyle 6, D O'Mahoney 6. Subs: C Murray 6 for O'Mahoney (49), B Reddin 6 for Hanlon (66).
Carlow -- F Foley 6; A Corcoran 7, E Nolan 8, E Coady 7; J Corcoran 6, S Kavanagh 6, R Coady 6; J Kavanagh 5 A Gaule 7; E Byrne 6, J Kane 6, C Doyle 6; M Kavanagh 8, M Brennan 6, D Roberts 6. Subs: R Smithers 6 for Kane (h-t); M Clowry 6 for Doyle (55), A McDonald 6 for Roberts (59), K McCabe 6 for McEvoy (66), H O'Byrne 6 for Gaule (68).
Ref -- A Kelly (Galway).