Kerry 3-15 Laois 2-21

Laois will play Wexford in the Leinster SHC quarter-final after overcoming the resolute challenge of Kerry in a gripping contest in Tralee.

This was a winner-takes-all game as both teams chased a place in the next round of the provincial championship.

In the end Ross King's expertise from placed balls and a costly sending off for Kerry proved decisive to the outcome with the visitors just about getting over the line to set up a quarter-final crack off Davy Fitzgerald's Yellow Bellies.

Laois will be joined in those quarter-finals by Westmeath – who will play Offaly – while Kerry just about retained their Leinster SHC status on scoring difference, which means Meath are relegated to next season's Christy Ring Cup.

A win for Kerry could have qualified them for their first Leinster quarter-final but Laois were, arguably, the slightly better side overall in Tralee, although the home side pushed the winners all the way to the last puck.

Laois got the perfect start with Neil Foyle finding the Kerry net after just two minutes when Martin Stackpoole had initially saved well from Patrick Purcell, but Kerry were soon back on level terms with points from Jordan Conway, Mikey Boyle and two Shane Nolan frees to make it 1-01 to 0-04 after five minutes.

Nolan and King divided the next six points between them, before Patrick Purcell and Nolan swapped points from play to make it 0-08 to 1-05 after 25 minutes.

It was another 11 minutes before the next score arrived – a long-range point from Aaron Dunphy – but then Kerry hit Laois for two goals in additional time, with Nolan scoring twice past Enda Rowland to send the Kingdom to the half time break 2-8 to 1-7 in front.

Kerry would have hoped to built on that momentum after the break but Laois started the second half the better team, and when midfielder Patrick Pucell goaled in the 41st minute Laois took the lead and the momentum at 2-10 to 2-08.

Laois kicked on with King converting three more frees, as well as points from Purcell and Stephen Maher, as they extended their lead to 2-15 to 2-09, with Kerry defender Sean Weir being sent off for a second booking in the just after the three-quarter hour mark.

Kerry battled away and when Mikey Boyle's retaken 25-metre free breached the Laois goal line the deficit was to three points, but with their numerical disadvantage the hosts couldn't get any closer.

Late scores from King and substitute Stephen Bergin helped Laois see out the victory and put them into the open draw that saw them pulled out to face Wexford at the end of the month.

Shane Nolan's two goals for Kerry weren't enough

Kerry: M Stackpoole, J O'Connor (0-01), R Horgan, S Weir, J Buckley (0-01), D Dineen, T Murnane, J Goulding, P O'Connor, B O'Leary, M O'Leary, J Conway (0-01), P Boyle (0-02f), M Boyle (1-01, 1-00f), S Nolan (2-06, 0-04f, 0-01 '65').
Subs: J Griffin (0-01) for J Goulding (58 mins), M O'Connor for J Conway (60 mins), B Murphy (0-01) for T Murnane (64 mins), P Lucid (0-01) for S Nolan (68 mins).

Laois: E Rowland, L Cleere, L Bergin, D Palmer, C Collier, C Dywer, M Whelan, R King (0-13, 11f, 1 '65'), P Purcell (1-02), S Downey (0-01), R Mullaney, P Whelan, A Dunphy (0-01), N Foyle (1-00), S Maher (0-01). Subs: J Lennon for P Whelan (inj, 32 mins), Aidan Corby (0-01) for R Mullaney (HT), M Kavanagh (0-01) for S Downey (57 min), S Bergin (0-01) for S Maher (64 mins), B Corby for N Foyle (69 mins).

Refere: Alan Kelly (Galway)