However unlike Ruby Walsh at Prestbury Park last Tuesday they had time to pick themselves up and snatch a share of the spoils, though it must have felt like a point lost rather than one gained. Substitute Eamon Wallace proved the savour with the equaliser on the stroke of 70 minutes.
The well fancied favourites seemed to be cantering to a third successive success after opening up a seven point gap early in the second half. They led 0-9 to 0-4 at the break and that lead quickly extended shortly after the restart. They idled in front though and almost paid a hefty price as Laois produced a storming revival.
After a disjointed first half display Laois turned it around after the break. They scored seven successive points to draw level and then snatched the lead score for the first time on 64 minutes. Manager Tomás Ó Flaherta acknowledged their first half display cost them dearly.
““I wasn’t too concerned when we were five points down at half-time, I knew these lads and how hard they work in training, that there was much more in them. When we went seven points behind though it looked much more daunting. However John O’Loughlin brought us back into it in the middle of the field and we also played much more intelligent football. It was very pleasing the second half but the lads themselves are very disappointed that they didn’t get the two points.”
In contrast Meath boss Mick O’Dowd was less than pleased with his charges’ second half display as they surrendered a comfortable lead.
“You’d be incredibly disappointed that you had the winning of the game in your hand and didn’t finish the job,” O’Dowd said. “We played some of our best football in the opening half of the game and then kicked on with two fine points at the start of the second half. What happened after that we need to identify. It is a bit disappointing but what it means now is that to get promoted we need to win all our remaining matches.”
Mickey Newman was in sparkling form throughout the first half, scoring seven points, including five from frees.
The introduction of Paul Kingston made a difference for Laois and with sibling Donie switching to the ‘40 Laois were a much more potent force.
There was a two point contribution from midfielder John O’Loughlin before Paul Kingston brought the sides level on 56 minutes.
Meath regained the lead momentarily through Bryan Menton before points from Donie Kingston and Ross Munnelly edged the visitors back in front.
Captain Donal Keogan played a major role in the equaliser as he drove through the heart of the Laois defence before parting to Wallace who fired over.
Scorers for Meath: M Newman (0-8, six frees), B Menton (0-2), G Reilly, S Bray and E Wallace (0-1 each).
Scorers for Laois: D Kingston (0-5, three frees), J O’Loughlin, P Kingston (0-2 each), D Strong ‘45, B Quigley, C Boyle, R Munnelly, 1f (0-1 each).
MEATH: P O’Rourke; D Tobin, C McGill, M Burke; N Judge, D Keogan, B Power; B Menton; A Flanagan; G Reilly, P Harnan, A Tormey; M O’Sullivan, S Bray, M Newman.
Subs: D Carroll for Harnan (59), E Wallace for O’Sullivan (60), J Wallace for Tormey (62), S Tobin for Menton (65), S Carty for Judge (70).
LAOIS: G Brody; P Begley, M Timmons, G Hanrahan; D Strong, R Kehoe, C Begley; B Quigley, J O’Loughlin; N Donoher, C Boyle, G Dillon; R Munnelly, D Kingston, E O’Carroll.
Subs: D O’Connor for Hanrahan (10), P Kingston for Dillon (24), T Shield for O’Carroll (46), S Attride for Boyle (70).
Referee: M McNally (Monaghan)