Laois 1-10 Armagh 0-10

It wasn't pretty from Laois at O'Moore Park but progression was paramount as they overcame stubborn Armagh to reach Round 2A of the All-Ireland football qualifiers.

Conor Meredith's brilliantly taken first-half goal proved crucial while talisman Donie Kingston kicked four important points for the midlanders.

But it was all about character in Portlaoise where Laois dug deep in a defensive, error strewn game to keep their Championship challenge alive.

Armagh cut their deficit to a single point in the 62nd minute and fought hard for an equaliser, but injury-time Laois points from substitutes Jamie Farrell and Ross Munnelly secured the win.

Laois will now go into Monday morning's draw on RTÉ Morning Ireland for Round 2A though Kieran McGeeney and his Armagh crew face a difficult few months.

Their season is over now and has yielded relegation to Division 3 of the Allianz league as well as disappointing Championship defeats to Cavan and Laois.

Both sides held the lead at different stages of the first-half though neither ever looked like pulling clear in a tense, edgy affair.

Laois were more defensive initially and regularly pulled 13 men behind the ball as they defended Armagh attacks.

Kingston was a reliable aerial outlet in Laois's previous games against Wicklow and Dublin but won little in the air this time.

He contested three high balls into the Armagh danger area in the first-half and caught just one, which resulted in a clearance moments later.

Armagh led 0-03 to 0-02 when Meredith scored a contender for goal of the Championship in the 16th minute.

The O'Dempsey's man sprinted clear of Ciaran McKeever down the left of the field and unleashed a bullet left-footed shot to the top right corner.

It looked like the moment which might ignite Laois but was a rare moment of inspiration and they added just two more points in the remaining 20 minutes or so before the break.

Armagh fought back to level terms at 1-02 to 0-05 in the 21st minute thanks to back to back converted frees from Campbell.

The sides were level four times in the first-half in total and went into the interval deadlocked on 1-04 to 0-07.

Campbell was Armagh's principal attacker and caused the Laois defence plenty of problems, roving around the attack and winning one of the three frees that he converted in the opening half.

In truth, it wasn't a classic contest and the sense of two sides fighting hard to avoid an early Championship exit was strong.

Laois dominated the third quarter and forced Armagh to defend with 13 in their own half for much of that period.

Kingston and David Conway kicked points before Kingston was fed by Meredith for his first point from play in the 49th minute, moving them 1-07 to 0-7 ahead.

Armagh's defensive screen, allied to a couple of terrible Laois wides, kept the Orchard men in contention and Michael McKenna's second point for the visitors left just two in it again.

Armagh sub Joe Feeney reduced the margin to just one in the 62nd minute but Laois held on and those points from Farrell and veteran Munnelly sealed the three-point win.

Laois: G Brody; S Attride, M Timmons, G Hanrahan; D Strong (0-01), K Lillis, D O'Connor; B Quigley, K Meaney; N Donoher, P Cahillane (0-01, 0-01f), C Begley; C Meredith (1-00), D Kingston (0-04, 0-03f), D Conway (0-01).

Subs: A Farrell for Strong, J Farrell (0-01) for Meaney, M Campion for Donoher, R Munnelly (0-01) for Conway, G Walsh (0-01, 0-01f) for Cahillane, Gillon for Meredith.

Armagh: P Morrison; S Heffron, B Donaghy, J McElroy; A Mallon, M Shields (0-01), C McKeever; C Vernon, A Findon; T Kernan, R Grugan (0-02, 0-01f), A Forker (0-01); M McKenna (0-02), S Campbell (0-03, 0-03f), N Grimley.

Subs: J Morgan for Shields, J Feeney (0-01) for Forker, G McParland for Grimley, J Hall for Kernan, Kernan for McKenna, 

Referee: A Nolan (Wicklow).