Down took the lead when Catherine McGourty pointed a 45 and they were 0-4 to 0-3 ahead when Niamh Dollard reacted quickest to Maria McNally’s batted clearance to goal for Laois 35 seconds into the added time.
McGourty found the net at the other end as Down led 1-4 to 1-3 at the interval.
But far from being downbeat, Sarah-Anne Fitzgerald and Niamh Dollard slotted five points between them as last year’s beaten finalists Laois went three points clear by the 43rd minute.
But crucially, they failed to score again.
At the other end Karen Gribben ended a 16-minute drought for Down and the Mourne outfit with renewed confidence, as points from McGourty and Niamh Mallon brought the teams level. Gribben sent over a sensational score from tight on the right to put Alastair McGilligan’s crew ahead. McGourty, Karen McMullan and Aimee McAleenan added scores to cement the victory.
Scorers for Down: C McGourty 1-4 (0-1f, 0-1 45); K McMullan, N Mallon, K Gribben 0-2 each, A McAleenan, SL Carr 0-1 each
Scorers for Laois: SA Fitzgerald 0-5 (4fs); N Dollard 1-2; L Mahony 0-1
DOWN: M McNally, K Tinnelly, C McGovern, B McGourty, C Rocks, L McAliskey, F Carr, A Keown, K McMullan, L McPolin, P Gribben, C McGourty, N Mallon, SL Carr, K Gribben.
Subs: G O’Higgins for Rocks (30), C Clarke for McPolin (37), N Braniff for Clarke (57), E McCormick for Keown (60+1), A McAleenan for Gribben (60+2)
LAOIS: L Dunne, M Burke, R Bermingham, A Burke, M O’Grady, E Delaney, A Dunphy, S Burke, AM Purcell, L Mahony, SA Fitzgerald, E Mahony, D Mortimer, N Dollard, LM Maher.
Subs: C Walsh for Burke inj (4), O Parkinson for Maher (55)
Referee: L Dempsey (Kilkenny).