Laois fought with all their might and dominated for long periods of the second half, but unbeaten Kilkenny got the business done and their fourth victory in Division 1B earned them passage through to the league final - if and when it might be played.

The Cats travel to play Clare next weekend, but today's success in UPMC Nowlan Park renders the outcome of that tie irrelevant in terms of the qualifiers for the league final from Division 1B.

For Laois, who have yet to register on the league ladder, a relegation battle against Westmeath is on the cards, as is a Leinster Championship clash with Wexford in a few weeks’ time.

Laois must have felt from early on that this was going to be a difficult afternoon. During the opening four minutes alone they lost points to Eoin Cody and James Bergin, who finished off a sweeping end-to-end move, before goalie Enda Rowland brought off a sensational save.

Billy Ryan opened up the path to goal for Cody with a clever hand-pass, but Rowland kept out a stinging shot from 12 metres.

The losers conceded four times before free-taker PJ Scully opened their account in the ninth minute when he punished a foul on Aaron Dunphy.

The Cats, with Paddy Deegan tremendous in defence, simply kept driving away though. However, their finishing wasn't always the best. At half time the home side had registered 11 wides but had still built up a lead of 1-15 to 0-09.

The goal was scored by full-forward Liam Blanchfield in the 22nd minute. The Bennettsbridge man carried the ball well on a piercing run, and after being hooked twice by dogged defender Sean Downey, he eventually ended up kicking the ball into the net.

Stephen Maher and Scully (2) put Laois points together shortly after, but the opposition hit back for minors before the break from Cody (free) and Blanchfield before Jack Kelly had the final say with a 36th-minute score for the losers.

After the turn Laois were a different team. Ross King was moved from full to centre-forward, and with the likes of a brilliant Scully, Kelly and Paddy Purcell prominent they thundered into the game and got on top of the opposition.

Kilkenny boss Brian Cody speaking to RTÉ's Marty Morrissey after the game

Indeed, had Laois made the best of goals chances that fell their way in the 61st and 67th minutes, who knows how things might have ended up? Home goalie Eoin Murphy denied them with brilliant saves on both occasions, the first time with the score standing at 1-24 to 0-20.

At one stage between the 37th and 46th minutes Kilkenny were hit for seven scores against four as Laois hauled the arrears back to 1-19 to 0-16.

There were high moments for the losers afterwards, but Kilkenny always appeared to have that bit in hand and they added gloss to a somewhat ragged showing by finishing with late points from John Donnelly, James Bergin and sub Jody O’Dwyer.

Kilkenny: E Murphy; T Walsh, J Holden, P Deegan; D Corcoran, H Lawlor, M Carey (0-01); R Reid (0-02), C Fogarty (0-02); A Mullen (0-02), M Keoghan (0-01), B Ryan (0-01); J Bergin (0-05), L Blanchfield (1-02), E Cody (0-11, 0-08fs. 0-01 '65’).

Subs: T. O’Dwyer (0-01) for Ryan (43) J Donnelly (0-01) for Keoghan (48), M Cody for Carey (50), A Murphy for Mullen (56) P Walsh for Walsh (64).

Laois: E Rowland (0-01, 0-01f); D Conway, S Downey, D Hartnett; J Kelly (0-02), C McEvoy, S Maher (0-01); F Fennell, P Purcell (0-02); J Ryan, A Dunphy (0-01), C Collier; PJ Scully (0-11, 0-09fs. 0-01 ’65’), R King (0-03), E Gaughan.

Subs: W Dunphy for Ryan (ht), C Comerford for Gaughan (ht), L Cleere (0-01) for Conway (36), E Lyons for Collier (54), R. Mullaney for Maher (54), J Keyes for Dunphy (57), S Bergin for King (61).

Referee: R. McGann (Clare).