Two goals in a minute in the dying embers of this game rescued Laois and ensured that they will be in Division 1B next year, while Antrim must play Kerry or Westmeath the weekend after next to determine their fate.
Antrim lost Ryan McCambridge to a straight red card after an off-the-ball incident involving Willie Hyland in the 48th minute but by that stage, they were on the front foot, having trailed at half time by 0-13 to 1-6.
Substitute Daniel McKernan brought them level with just over five minutes remaining. Zane Keenan caught them cold with a clinical finish for a goal a minute later and from the next attack, Ross King drove a thunderous shot over his right shoulder to the Antrim net to cement the verdict.
“Some days games are like that and you just simply have to get down and dirty and scrap out the game” said Plunkett.
“We would probably be disappointed with our performance and disappointed maybe that we didn’t hold our shape. We didn’t have a great flow to our hurling, but I said it to the lads early on. Some days games are like that; like Van Morrison, ‘There’ll be days like this’.
You just simply have to get down and scrap out a game and today was like that. The conditions were poor and it was difficult to control ball. I’m very, very satisfied with the result.
“It’s obviously very clear that we have some work to do in terms of the way we play but that’s for another day and we are just delighted to still be in this division next year. I’m delighted to be playing at this level again.”
Antrim boss, Kevin Ryan was left scratching his head by a subdued first half performance and yet had cause to be proud once more as Antrim thundered into proceedings in the second half only to concede two goals in a minute late on when level.
“We didn’t show up in the first half in a lot of areas” said Ryan.
“We had a serious lack of intensity for some reason in the first half, particularly we had no penetration in the forward line. There was a massive effort in the second half and even after the sending off — Ryan was doing fantastic actually — but I’d be pleased that they went for it.
"They drove on and got the game back level. Okay, we got caught with a sucker punch, but to be honest, I’d rather be sucker punched when going for the thing than just sitting back there and trying to hold on.”
Z Keenan 1-6(0-fs); R King 1-2; PJ Scully 0-3; C Dwyer, J Campion 0-2 each; P Whelan, J Fitzpatrick, W Hyland 0-1 each
C Clarke 1-5(0-4fs); P Shiels 0-4(3fs); N McManus, S McCrory, O McFadden, D McKernan 0-1 each
E Reilly, JA Delaney, C Healy, J Walsh, P Whelan, C Dunne, J Fitzpatrick, Z Keenan, P Purcell, W Hyland, J Campion, C Dwyer, PJ Scully, T Fitzgerald, R King.
D Palmer for Purcell (56), J Purcell for Fitzgerald (62), B Conroy for Walsh (68)
R McGarry, R McCambridge, A Graffin, N McAuley, O McFadden, P Shiels, S McCrory, C Johnson, M Bradley, E Campbell, C Carson, N McManus, C Clarke, PJ O’Connell, C Johnston.
T McCann for McCrory (24), M Donnelly for McCann (49), D McKernan for O’Connell (49)
D Hughes (Carlow)