Laois kept their Division 3 promotion hopes alive following a hard-earned win over Longford in a gripping battle in O’Moore Park.

It was a result Laois really had to dig out, having trailed at half-time despite playing with the aid of a considerable breeze in the opening 35 minutes.

Laois never threatened to stretch clear in that first-half. While they led 0-6 to 0-4 after 20 minutes - with Evan O’Carroll and Ross Munnelly prominent - Longford then kicked the next four and led 0-8 to 0-7 at the break.

Big midfielder Darren Gallagher hit three points in the first-half for Longford and they deserved their narrow advantage at the mid-way point. James McGivney and Darragh O’Doherty also caught the eye.

Despite facing into the elements in the second-half, Laois improved massively - and after an intense period of play, they took the lead in the 58th minute when O’Carroll drilled over a ‘45.

Longford replied instantly when Darragh O’Doherty punched the ball over the bar but Laois - now dominating possession and driven on by the experienced midfielder John O’Loughlin - regained the lead when O’Carroll swung over an inspirational score.

Longford were dealt a blow when substitute Joseph Fagan was sin-binned with five minutes of normal time remaining, meaning they finished the game with 14 men.

And Laois made sure of the win thanks to a fine point from Eoin Lowry after a patient build-up.

Both sides remain in contention with two rounds still to go with Laois away to Offaly in two weeks time and Longford at home to bottom side Sligo.

Laois scorers: E O’Carroll 0-4 (1f, 1 ‘45), R Munnelly and D Kingston (1f, 1m) 0-3 each, C Boyle (m), J O’Loughlin, S Attride, E Lowry 0-1 each.

Longford scorers: D Gallagher 0-4 (2f), J McGivney, M Hughes and D Doherty 0-2, L Connerton 0-1 and M Quinn 0-1.

Laois: G Brody; S Attride, M Timmons, G Dillon; M Scully, R Pigott, C Begley; J O’Loughlin, K Lillis; S Byrne, B Carroll, C Boyle; R Munnelly, E O’Carroll, D Kingston. Subs: T Collins for Byrne (HT), S O’Flynn for Pigott (50), C Murphy for Kingston (58), E Lowry for Boyle (61), P Cahillane for Scully (71)

Longford: P Collum; P Fox, A Farrell, B O’Farrell; C Smyth, D McElligott, D Quinn; D Gallagher, M Quinn; R McEntire, J McGivney, D Mimnagh; D Doherty, C Berry, L Connerton. Subs: M Hughes for Berry (inj - 19), J Keegan for McEntire (HT), J Hagan for Hughes (65)

Referee: C Lane (Cork)