Laois survived an almighty second half score from Leitrim to pick up their second NFL Division 4 victory of the season in Carrick-on-Shannon on Sunday.
Laois started the game in confident fashion, controlling the ball and creating scoring chances with relative ease. Evan O'Carroll opened the scoring in the first minute, winning the ball 30 yards out, turning onto his left foot and stroking it over the bar.
Gary Walsh added a brilliant free moments later from the right wing, and then he tapped over an easier effort from in front of the posts.
Leitrim opened their account after that, dangerous full-forward Keith Beirne pointing a free, but it failed to slow down the Laois momentum, and they struck for a goal soon after.
They showed good maturity in possession, holding the ball and recycling it until an opening presented itself to break down the right wing. The move ended with Trevor Collins baring down on goal, and his powerful, low shot flew into the bottom corner, giving Laois a five point lead.
Paul Kingston could have had a goal moments later, only to see his left-footed shot fly over the bar from close range. Beirne responded at the other end for Leitrim with a free, but Eoin Lowry's opening score of the game kept Laois six clear.
Slowly but surely, however, Leitrim started to get a foothold in the game, and two Beirne points from play in succession gave them a bit of confidence.
Laois were still creating chances at the other end, but some poor shooting let them down on numerous occasions, with Evan O'Carroll and Eoin Lowry particularly guilty.
Gary Walsh's third pointed free shook the out of their stupor, and then Paul Kingston kicked a wonderful score from the right wing, as Laois went six clear again. That lead was almost halved moments later, but for Graham Brody.
Gareth Dillon felled Ryan O'Rourke in the area, and referee Barry Judge didn't hesitate in pointing to the spot. Beirne stepped up to take it, but his weak shot was saved by Graham Brody, and Laois cleared the danger.
Beirne would at least atone for the miss to some extent a minute later, as he launched a long-range free between the posts, and that was the final score of the half. Laois lead 1-7 to 0-5 at the interval.
If Laois had allowed their standards to drop in the run up to half time, whatever was said in the dressing room certainly addressed that, as they tore into Leitrim from the first whistle.
Gary Walsh pointed twice in the opening five minutes, before he then won a penalty. Eoin Lowry took on the responsibility, and duly tucked it into the bottom left corner of the net.
Laois kept their foot on the throttle, and Gary Walsh scored a brilliant point from the right wing before Evan O'Carroll cut in from the left wing before fisting over.
Brendan Gallagher finally offered some resistance from the home side with a fine point, but Laois hit back in ruthless fashion. A well-worked team move brought them through the Leitrim rearguard, and it ended with Colm Begley setting up Gary Walsh for their third goal.
That should have been that really, but if evidence were needed that Laois are still a work in progress was furnished from here on out.
Graham Brody went on one of his customary sojourns up the field, which ended with him well inside the Leitrim 45 yard line. When Laois lost possession, he was too far from goal to make it back, and Leitrim worked the ball down the field in impressive fashion, a move which finished with Darragh Rooney palming the ball to the net.
Gary Walsh replied with a free, but Leitrim had the confidence boost they needed and they were in on goal again moments later, winning a penalty. Rooney slotted that one home too, and they had the bit between their teeth now.
Soon after, a really well-worked move ended with Ryan O'Rourke in possession in the penalty area, and he slotted home to leave Laois really rattled. Keith Beirne added a point, and Laois looked incredibly vulnerable.
Thankfully they managed to steady the ship, with points from Munnelly and O'Carroll, but it will have been worrying to Sugrue and his management team the manner in which they leaked scores in the second half.
SCORERS - Laois: Gary Walsh 1-8 (0-6 frees), Eoin Lowry 1-1 (1-0 pen), Evan O'Carroll 0-3, Trevor Collins 1-0, Ross Munnelly, Paul Kingston 0-2 each.
Leitrim: Keith Beirne 0-8 (0-4 frees), Darragh Rooney 2-1 (1-0 pen), Ryan O'Rourke 1-0, Brendan Gallagher 0-1.
LAOIS: Graham Brody; David Holland, Shane Nerney, Ruadhri C Fennell; Trevor Collins, Colm Begley, Graham Brody; John O'Loughlin, Danny O'Reilly; Alan Farrell, Paul Kingston, Brian Glynn; Eoin Lowry, Gary Walsh, Evan O'Carroll. Subs: Niall Donoher for Glynn (half time), Ross Munnelly for Lowry (47 mins), Aaron Dowling for Farrell (50 mins), Kieran Lillis for O'Reilly (55 mins), Robbie Donoher for Holland (55 mins), Jamie Farrell for Begley (60 mins, inj)
LEITRIM: Diarmuid McKiernan; James Mitchell, Michael McWeeney, Matthew Murphy; Keith Keegan, Donal Wrynn, Oisin Madden; Dean McGovern, Colm Moreton; Conor Gaffney, Ryan O'Rourke, Brendan Gallagher; Aidan Flynn, Keith Beirne, James Rooney. Subs: Eoin Ward for Flynn (45 mins), Jack Heslin for Gallagher (50 mins), Damien Moran for Wrynn (57 mins), Noel Plunkett for Murphy (57 mins)
Referee: Barry Judge (Sligo)
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