The result means that none of the provincial winners contest the penultimate stage of the competition.
Kerry, hurt by their Munster decider defeat by Cork, produced a marvellous display of football which Laois had no answer to and on this evidence the Tomas Markham Cup could well end up in the Kingdom .
Kerry led after two minutes through an Alan O’Sullivan point and only a superb save by Laois ‘keeper Darren Maher denied newcomer Thomas Garvey a goal three minutes later.
A highly rated Laois side, who won the Leinster crown last month, struggled alarmingly, particularly in defence as the Kerry forwards chased and harassed their men at every opportunity. The dominance of the Kerry forwards, superbly led by Paul O’Connor, was amazing and they lost another glorious chance of a goal in the 15th minute when Kieran O’Leary was on the end of a splendid move, only to shoot wide with only the ‘keeper to beat.
On the rare occasion Laois journeyed into the Kerry defence, they could make no impression as Killian Young, Gavin Duffy and Colin O’Mahony were completely on top. The aerial dominance of Killian, Alan O’Sullivan and Kieran Brennan in particular gave them a firm grip on midfield and using the long ball to great effect, led 0-7 to 0-2 after 25 minutes, the last score a magnificent effort by Brennan who fetched superbly from a kick out, raced 30 metres before landing the best score of the game.
Despite their territorial advantage, Kerry continued to spurn goal chances and Paul O’Connor was denied when Laois corner back Kevin Smith took his effort off the line with the ‘keeper beaten. Laois finished the opening period strongly with a well taken point by Sean O’Shea and Kerry’s half time lead of 0-7 to 0-3 was a poor return for their overall control.
Laois threw down the gauntlet to Kerry on the change over with a Scott Conroy point seconds after the restart and playing with a lot more urgency, they peppered their opponents defence but could find no way through as Young, O’Mahony and Duffy defended superbly.
Despite losing Paul O’Connor through injury, Kerry added four points without reply and they were well on their way to a semi-final meeting with Mayo long before the final whistle. Tempers frayed for a period as both sides lost their composure and a very fussy referee had occasion to issue seven yellow cards (four to Laois) in an attempt to keep the peace.
With five minutes to go Laois were given some hope when Daithi Carroll won a penalty and he converted it superbly, but Kerry, oozing with confidence, finished with a brace of points. And just to emphasis their overall superiority, Paddy Curran was denied a goal in the last minute by an excellent save by Maher.
At the final whistle it was easy to understand Kerry coach Sean Geaney’s delight.
“We were very down after the Munster final and it took a couple of days to get over it. But I always knew this was a good group of Kerry minors and that there was a lot more in them.
“Thankfully they proved it today against a Laois team that was rated very highly. It’s been an amazing championship so far and who knows what further twists there are to come.
“We have been given a second chance and we intend to take it. We have to make up for last year’s loss, but it’s not going to be easy. We’ve played Mayo already this year and they beat us by four points, but a lot has happened since then. The All-Ireland semi-final is a different kettle of fish entirely.”
Scorers: Kerry: P. Curran, M. O’Donoghue (0-1 free) 0-3 each; P. O’Connor, K. O’Leary, T. Garvey (0-1 free) 0-2 each; A. O’Sullivan, K. Brennan 0-1 each.
Laois: D. Carroll 1-1 (frees); S. O’Leary, S. O’Shea, S. Conroy 0-1 each.
KERRY: G. Kissane; C. O’Mahony, K. Young, S. Enright; G. Duffy, M. Moloney, S. Lynch; K. Brennan, A. O’Sullivan; T. Garvey, M. O’Donoghue, J. Falvey; P.Curran, P. O’Connor, K. O’Leary.
Subs: J. Wrenn for Lynch; B. Looney for O’Connor; D. Murphy for Garvey.
LAOIS: D. Maher; P. Fleming, M. Delaney, K. Smith; R. Ryan, B. Meredith, S. Shortall; S. O’Neill, C. Og Green; S. O’Leary, J. Fennell, S. Conroy; S. O’Shea, C. Delaney, D. Carroll.
Subs: B. Brennan for Fleming; S. Ramsbottom for Fennell.
Referee: F. Flynn (Leitrim).