Monaghan staged a strong finish to clinch a 0-19 to 0-14 victory over Laois to keep their Allianz Football League Division 2 promotion prospects on track in wet and greasy conditions in Clones.
With Meath defeating Down on Saturday night, a win over Laois would have all but put Monaghan through to the division final which brought the importance of this game into even sharper contrast.
Laois who had won on their two previous visits to Monaghan made two changes from the team that started against Meath last time out, that saw Peter O’Leary and Evin Carroll coming in to replace Mark Timmins, who was out injured, and Gary Walsh who was excused duty as he is involved with the county U21 side.
Monaghan had one enforced change before the start with Dick Clerkin coming in for Owen Lennon.
Monaghan started well and opened with two excellent points from Kieran Hughes before Ross Munnelly opened for Laois in the 6th minute.
Monaghan continued to force the pace at this stage and led at one stage by three points, but Laois gradually clawed their way in to the game as they took increasing control around midfield and they were level for the first time in the 21st minute with a brace from Conor Meredith and David Conway.
The visitors took the lead for the first time with a point from a free by Donal Kingston who was adjudged to have been fouled by Drew Wylie.
The final ten minutes of the first half saw the sides level three times, but it was Monaghan who were playing catch up on each occasion to leave the half-time score Monaghan 0-08, Laois 0-08.
On the resumption Monaghan regained the lead with two points by Kieran Hughes and one from a free by Conor McManus.
Laois brought it back to the minimum through a Ross Mullelly free and a Billy Sheehan score, but Monaghan had now regained their earlier confidence and they were able to contain Laois as well as picking off points on telling counter attacks.
The introduction of Stephen Gollogly also had a marked effect as he won vital ball and helped create a number of scores as well as scoring two himself.
Laois reduced the deficit to two entering the final quarter, but Monaghan kicked on to open a five-point gap by the 25th minute thanks to Stephen Gollogly, Dessie Mone with his second of the day and Fintan Kelly.
And while Laois pushed it right to the wire, getting it back to three in stoppage time, they never looked like getting the goal they needed if they were to turn it around.
Monaghan finished with a brace from a Conor McManus free and substitute Martin McElroy's score to leave five in it at the finish.
Teams and Scorers:
Monaghan: R Beggan, K Duffy, D Wylie, F Kelly 0-1, C Walshe, V Corey, D Mone 0-2, D Clerkin, G Doogan 0-1, K O’Connell, J McCarron, P Donaghy, D Malone, K Hughes 0-4, C McManus 0-6 (4f). subs: S Gollogly 0-2 for P Donaghy, c McGuinness for J McCarron, D Hughes for D Clerkin, P Finlay 0-1 for D malone, m McElroy 0-1 for D Mone.
Laois: G Brody, P McMahon, D Booth, P O’Leary, D Strong 0-2, P Begley, C Begley, K Meaney, J O’Loughlin 0-1, R Munnelly 0-2 (2f), C Meredith 0-1, B Sheehan, E O’Carroll, D Kingston 0-1 (f), D Conway 0-1. Subs: G Walsh G Walsh 0-1 (f) for E O’Carroll, J Finn for K Meaney, P Kingston for D Conway, D O’Connor 0-1 for B Sheehan, MJ Tierney for R Munnelly.
Referee: B Cassidy (Derry).