By Daragh Ó Conchúir
Laois 1-11 Armagh 1-10
Laois withstood a terrific second half onslaught from Armagh to confirm their progress in the A group of qualifiers.
Mick Lillis’ men had won when the sides met a fortnight ago but having used one sub too many, had to replay the game.
Beforehand, the key questions surrounded the mental status of both sides. Would Laois be downcast having been forced to take on a team they thought they had gotten rid of or would Armagh have any appetite for the battle, having presumed they were gone?
Maybe the midlanders would be gung-ho to confirm the result or their opponents would be anxious to grasp the second chance.
As it happened, it seemed like it was all of the above.
Laois burst out of the traps and Niall Donoher had a point after 31 seconds.
The brilliant Conway added another and set up Darren Strong for a third before Armagh got their only score of the half with a 15th minute point by Micheál McKenna, whose delicate lob bounced over off the crossbar.
Conway fired an outstanding score and Paul Cahillane slotted an easy free before Conor Meredith showed good strength and composure to fire low to the Armagh net three minutes before the break to make it 1-5 to 0-1.
Armagh were a completely different proposition in the second half, showing great character as they chipped away with a couple of points before Rory Grugan fired a goal in the 45th minute.
Tony Kernan blazed wide from a glorious position having been set up by Grugan four minutes later, but undeterred, they kicked on with points from Grugan, Stefan Campbell and influential substitute Colm Watters.
Laois showed their own determination though and Ross Munnelly came off the bench to score two points.
Armagh were dealt a blow with the sending off of Aaron Findon three minutes from time and points from Gary Walsh and John O’Loughlin edged the hosts home.
SCORERS FOR LAOIS: C Meredith 1-0; D Conway, R Munnelly (1f), J O’Loughlin 0-2 each; P Cahillane (f), N Donoher, D Strong, D Kingston (f), G Walsh (f) 0-1 eaach
SCORERS FOR ARMAGH: R Grugan 1-2; S Campbell 0-4(3fs); C Watters 0-2; M McKenna, B Donaghy 0-1 each
LAOIS: G Brody, S Attride, M Timmons, G Hanrahan, D Strong, K Lillis, D O’Connor, B Quigley, J O’Loughlin, C Begley, P Cahillane, N Donoher, C Meredith, D Kingston, D Conway
Subs: A Farrell for O’Connor BC (21), K Meaney for Donoher (47), R Munnelly for Conway (54), G Dillon for Strong (57), G Walsh for Cahillane (64) M Campion for Quigley (70+3)
ARMAGH: P Morrison, S Hefron, B Donaghy, J McElroy, A Mallon, C Vernon, S Connell, A Findon, S Sheridan, T Kernan, R Grugan, A Forker, M McKenna, S Campbell, P Casey
Subs: N Grimley for Sheridan inj (6), E McVerry for Casey (27), C Watters for Connell (ht), M Shields for McKenna (63)
REFEREE: P O’Sullivan (Kerry)