Laois booked a date in June with the All Ireland champions Dublin after saw off Wicklow 0-21 to 1-11 on a wet and windy afternoon in Aughrim.
The opening day of the Leinster Football Championship provided good entertainment for the spectators but ultimately it was the class of forwards Ross Munnelly and Donie Kingston that won it for Laois.
A tense opening half saw the midlanders draw first blood with a score after just 12 seconds from midfielder Kevin Meaney in what was Tomás O’Flaharta’s opening Championship game as Laois manager.
The visitors had the better of the opening exchanges but could not convert their dominance into a meaningful lead with Wicklow’s dogged defence confining their marksmen to a paltry two points after 10 minutes.
It took Harry Murphy's side a little over 12 minutes to register their first score but a free from Seanie Furlong settled the home side’s nerves with points from Leighton Glynn and Rory Finn following to edge the Garden County in front.
Former Dublin star Johnny Magee, now a Wicklow selector, would have been proud of the Dublin-esque determination that his charges displayed in getting back into the game.
Their full forward line in Cunningham, Furlong and Glynn displayed great heart but also disrupted the visitors' rhythm early on with Furlong, in particular, causing havoc for Paul Begley.
The O'Moore County struggled to cope with the home side’s resilience in the opening period with the scores neck and neck throughout. The momentum told for Wicklow when Paul Cunningham struck a goal on the cusp of half time after the sharp corner forward picked up a breaking ball off Furlong.
The goal did not blow the wind out of the sails for Laois, however, who went in at half time level but finished the half in the ascendancy.
Laois started the second half positively with Donie Kingston and Munnelly helping their team pull away with some smart scores. The latter finishing the game with nine points over all.
The home side couldn’t keep up with the pace as the half wore on with the victors managing to wear Wicklow down.
Wicklow: R. Lambert; A. Murphy, P. McLoughlin, A. Byrne, K. Murphy, P. McWalter, D. Healy; J. Stafford, A. McLoughlin; R. Finn (0-03), M. Kenny, D. Hayden, L. Glynn (0-03, 2f), S. Furlong (0-04, 4f), P. Cunningham.
Substitutes: Conor McGraynor (0-01) for Mark Kenny (43 mins), Paddy Dalton for Paul Cunningham (62 mins), Niall Gaffney for Darren Hayden (66 mins).
Laois: G. Briody; P. McMahon, P. Begley, P. O’Leary, D. Strong (0-02, 1 ’45), S. Attride, C. Begley, K. Meaney (0-01), J. O’Loughlin (0-03), J. Finn, D. Kingston (0-06, 4 f’s), B. Sheehan, R. Munnelly (0-09, 0-5f), C. Meredith, D. Conway.
Substitutes: Evan Costello for J Finn (HT), Evan O’Carroll for David Conway (57 mins), Paul Kingston for Donie Kingston (68 mins)
Referee: R. Hickey (Clare).