By Daragh O Conchuir
Offaly 3-22 Laois 2-14
Shane Dooley scored a goal and 11 points from placed balls as Offaly put the travails of the round-robin series firmly behind them with a convincing derby win over Laois.
While the defeat to Westmeath would have left its mark, the benefit of having played three games in was evident early on, as Offaly had by far the better of the opening exchanges.
While goalkeeper Enda Rowland gave Laois the lead with a point from a free awarded deep in his own half, 'Cheddar' Plunkett's team looked lethargic compared to their opponents, who got the better of most of the physical battles.
Rowland made a very smart stop from Joe Bergin in the fifth minute and Dooley converted the resultant 65 to mark the beginning of their period of ascendancy.
It took until the 12th minute for the game to produce its first score but Sean Ryan's point pushed Offaly two clear before Laois finally began to find their feet.
Neil Foyle and Cha Dwyer were the visitors' sole attacking threats and they were amongst the scorers as they drew level and would have gone ahead but for a wonder save by James Dempsey from Dwyer.
PJ Scully put Laois ahead from the resultant 65 but the momentum switched once more when James Mulrooney beat Rowland, although the Laois goalkeeper should have done better.
Points from Sean Gardiner, Shane Kinsella and the deadly accurate Dooley put five between the teams but Dwyer landed two spectacular scores in the space of a minute, before Scully appeared to get the final touch for a goal after a goalmouth scramble, when Dempsey made three saves before finally being beaten.
The teams went in level at 1-10 apiece but Laois never came out in the second half as Offaly showed by far the greater appetite.
Eamonn Kelly's charges outscored their opponents by 2-12 to 1-4 in the second half, and Laois' goal, via substitute Willie Dunphy, was scored in the game's final play.
Offaly resumed with real intent and Joe Bergin's goal within 37 seconds of the throw-in seemed to completely deflate Laois.
Paddy Murphy, Dooley, and Kevin Connolly added points and it was plain sailing from there.
Dooley clinically drove to the net from a 56th minute penalty to remove any doubt and Dunphy's late contribution was of statistical interest only.
Scorers for Offaly: S Dooley 1-11 (0-10fs, 1-0 pen, 0-1 65); J Bergin 1-1; S Kinsella 0-3; J Mulrooney 1-0; S Gardiner, P Murphy, S Ryan, K Connolly, C Kiely, S Cleary, L Langton 0-1 each
Scorers for Laois: PJ Scully 1-3(0-2fs, 1 65); C Dwyer 0-5; PJ Scully 1-0; N Foyle, S Maher (1f) 0-2 each; W Hyland, E Rowland (f) 0-1 each
Offaly: J Dempsey, C McDonald, D Shortt, P Rigney, D King, S Gardiner, D Mooney, S Ryan, P Camon, S Kinsella, J Bergin, P Murphy, K Connolly, J Mulrooney, S Dooley
Subs: C Kiely for Shortt (ht), L Langton for Connolly (57), S Cleary for Mulrooney (60), J Sampson for Ryan (63)
Laois: E Rowland,, C Healy, D Maher, D Palmer, L Bergin, M Whelan, R Mullaney, P Purcell, J Lennon, C Dwyer, S Maher, W Hyland, C Stapleton, N Foyle, PJ Scully
Subs: B Conroy for Stapleton (45), T Delaney for Mullaney (48), W Dunphy for Scully (51), R King for Lennon (58), O Carroll for Delaney inj (66)
Referee: J Ryan (Tipperary)