Laois put themselves back in the hunt for promotion to Allianz NFL Division One with a comfortable 1-15 to 0-10 win over Galway at O’Moore Park.
Gary Walsh opened the scoring with a well-taken goal after just thirty seconds and Laois never led by less than two points after that.
Ross Munnelly, MJ Tierney and Walsh kicked 13 points between them, while Galway’s forwards could only manage one point from play in the face of some excellent defence from the home team.
A second yellow card for Cahir Healy in the 60th minute was the only negative aspect for Justin McNulty’s men, on a night when results elsewhere ensured that Longford were relegated and thus will have nothing to play for when they host Laois next week at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park.
A blistering start soon warmed up the crowd at a cold O’Moore Park tonight.
Laois were a goal to the good after Brendan Quigley found Gary Walsh in space 25 metres from goal and the Ballylinan player quickly took his four steps and blasted the ball to the corner of the net in the game’s first attacking play.
Two Michael Martin frees either side of a well taken score from Ross Munnelly cut the deficit but after MJ Tierney struck a free to make it 1-02 to 0-02 after six minutes, the game hit a lull and no further scores were registered until Gary Sice scored with 19 minutes on the clock.
Gary Walsh did have chance to register a second goal on the night after 11 minutes after Denis Booth made a great run up the field and cut through the Galway defence, but under pressure from Finian Hanley, the shot from Walsh was pulled wide left.
Laois kicked four of the next five points to stretch their lead and while Galway did make a mini-comeback before half time with Paul Conroy and Niall Coleman getting on the scoresheet, they still trailed 1-07 to 0-06 at the break.
That four point lead was stretched to six after just four minutes of the second half through Walsh and MJ Tierney.
Galway succeeded in cancelling out those two scores through free kicks of their own from Paul Conroy, but that was to be as close as they got to Laois for the remainder of the game.
The Tribesmen enjoyed more than their fair share of primary possession at midfield in the second half but nine wides in the period cost them dearly, several of which were kicked from bad angles and under immense pressure from the Laois defenders.
The midlanders found it much easier to create space close to the Galway goal.
Points from Donal Kingston and Ross Munnelly drew large cheers from the home crowd and also left Galway facing an uphill battle as the final ten minutes loomed.
The dismissal of Cahir Healy for a second bookable offence gave Galway some hope and occurred after the Portlaoise man was deemed to have dragged down Michael Meehan, but Meehan failed to kick the resultant free, in keeping with a bleak half of football for the Connacht men.
The introduction of Danny Cummins added some life to the Galway attack and the Claregalway player had two chances to raise a green flag, but his first effort rattled the crossbar and was cleared, while his attempt in the 69th minute from inside the penalty area was brilliantly blocked by Denis Booth, who was one of the leading performers on the night.
A late MJ Tierney free kick from the right wing completed the scoring and ensured that Laois finish the night in third place in Division 2, just two points behind Derry and Westmeath in the promotion places.
Laois: Eoin Culliton; Kieran Lillis, Denis Booth, Cahir Healy; Darren Strong, John O’Loughlin, Padraig McMahon; Brendan Quigley, Conor Boyle; Ross Munnelly (0-04), Colm Begley, Billy Sheehan; MJ Tierney (0-05, 0-04 frees), Padraig Clancy (0-01), Gary Walsh (1-04, 0-03 frees).
Subs: Conor Meredith for Sheehan (temporary), Donal Kingston (0-01) for Clancy, Meredith for Sheehan, Mark Timmons for Lillis, Damien O’Connor for Munnelly, Kevin Meaney for Strong.
Galway: Manus Breathnach; Gary Sweeney, Finian Hanley, Johnny Duane; Garreth Bradshaw, Gary O’Donnell, Gary Sice (0-01); Niall Coleman (0-01), Anthony Griffin; Michael Boyle, Paul Conroy (0-03, 0-02 free), Seán Denvir; Eoin Concannon, Michael Meehan (0-01, free), Michael Martin (0-04, 0-03 frees).
Sub: Fionntán Ó’Curráin for Griffin, Seán Armstrong for Concannon, Conor Doherty for Denvir, Danny Cummins for Martin, Keith Kelly for Bradshaw.
Referee: Conor Lane (Cork)