Meath and Laois will meet again next Saturday after their Leinster SFC quarter-final finished level at Croke Park.
Even extra-time could not separate them, after the O’Moore men refused to accept defeat when faced with dire situations at various stages of a thrilling encounter.
Their bench proved vital, with substitutes contributing seven valuable points, including Padraig Clancy’s late equaliser in normal time, and the two late scores from John O’Loughlin that set up a second meeting.
Laois looked beaten when a fortuitous goal from Meath substitute Cormac McGuinness opened out a three points lead 15 minutes into extra-time, but they displayed immense courage to get themselves back on level terms.
Darren Strong and Cian Ward had traded early points before Graham Reilly grabbed a fifth minute goal for Meath.
Ward’s long ball was picked up by Joe Sheridan who offloaded to Reilly for a close range finish to the roof of the net.
Laois, to their credit, quickly recovered, and responded with a couple of converted frees from Donie Kingston.
But by the end of the opening quarter, th Royals, with Mark ward and in particular Brian Meade, imposing themselves on the midfield battle, had edged ahead by 1-4 to 0-3, with Sheridan drilling over a superb point from wide on the right.
They could have been further ahead had Shane O’Rourke not landed a couple of timid efforts into the arms of goalkeeper Michael Nolan.
Cian Ward did stretch it out to four with his second converted free, but Ross Munelly and Kingston, with a wonderful effort, kept the O’Moore men in touch.
O’Rourke finally found the range from Sheridan’s searching delivery to send Meath in with a 1-6 to 0-5 interval lead
Padraig Clancy’s introduction as a target man full forward almost paid off for Laois in the 52nd minute when another replacement MJ Tierney sent in the high ball which the towering Timahoe man fielded. His shot was smothered out for a ’45, which Tierney stroked between the posts to give his side a much-needed lift.
Meath quickly countered, with Sheridan yet again providing the assist for Reilly to bring his tally to 1-4. Soon afterwards, however, the elegant wing forward was forced out of the game by injury.
And Laois stunned their opponents with a brilliant goal from captain and corner back Padraig McMahon, smashed past Paddy O’Rourke from Ross Munnelly’s pass.
Shane O’Rourke restored the Royals’ three points advantage, but Laois scored the last three of the game, through substitutes Clancy (2) and Tierney to tie it up at 1-10 each and send the tie to added time.
Sheridan and substitute Conor Gillespie traded points with Kingston and Cahir Healy, and the sides remained deadlocked, 1-12 each, midway through extra-time.
Sub Cormac McGuinness hit a second Meath goal, his hopeful delivery fumbled into the net by goalkeeper Michael Nolan, but once again Laois dug deep, dominated the final five minutes and went level with scores from Tierney and O’Loughlin (2)
Meath: P O'Rourke, C O’Connor, K Reilly, E Harrington, M Burke, A Moyles, C King, B Meade, M Ward, S Kenny, J Sheridan (0-3), G Reilly (1-4, 0-1f)), C Ward (0-2, 2f), S O'Rourke (0-2), S Bray (0-1).
Subs: P Byrne for G Reilly, J Queeney for C Ward, G O’Brien for King, C Gillespie (0-1) for Kenny, B Farrell for Bray, C McGuinness (1-0) for Moyles, Bray for Farrell
Laois: M Nolan, P O'Leary, M Timmons, P McMahon (1-0), C Healy (0-1), C Ryan, C Begley, B Quigley, K Meaney, B Sheehan, C Rogers, D Strong (0-1), P Cahillane, D Kingston (0-6, 3f), R Munnelly (0-1, f).
Subs: P Clancy (0-2) for Cahillane, J O’Loughlin (0-2) for Sheehan, MJ Tierney (0-3, 2f, 1 ’45) for Strong, P Lawlor for Rogers, D Booth for Ryan, N Donoher for Munelly
Referee: M Duffy (Sligo)