DONEGAL 3-11 LAOIS 0-5
NFL DIVISION 2
Two second half goals steered Donegal to an ultimately comfortable win over Laois in wet conditions in Ballyshannon this afternoon.
The hosts were never troubled in this game, with Conall Dunne’s 11th-minute goal setting up a 1-6 to 0-2 half-time lead.
Without four players due to suspension, Laois rallied after the break with scores from Colm Begley, Donal Miller and David Carroll.
However four successive points and late goals from corner back James Keaney and target man Michael Murphy handed Donegal their second league victory.
As well as missing their suspended players and their All-Ireland Club Championship-tied Portlaoise contingent, Laois were forced into two late switches.
Mark Timmons was added to the Laois defence, in place of injured centre-back John O'Loughlin (thumb), while David Carroll replaced Ambrose Doran at corner forward.
In greasy underfoot conditions, Donegal had the better of a lacklustre opening quarter-hour in what was their captain Kevin Cassidy's 100th game for his county.
The Tir Chonaill men could have been out of sight by half-time but they amassed seven wides before the break, while dominating in the possession stakes.
Michael Murphy accounted for all of Donegal's opening three points from placed balls, while a strong shoulder charge from Barry Monaghan, good support play from Cassidy and a deft flick on from Murphy led to the onrushing Dunne firing the opening goal past Laois goalkeeper Conor Gorman.
Donegal continued to give Laois a testing time, with points from David Walsh and Monaghan ensuring an eight-point lead by the 19th minute.
Laois eventually got off the mark two minutes later, but questions were raised over the score. The umpires failed to signal that MJ Tierney's free had been legitimately sent over the crossbar. The confusion was cleared up at half-time, with the PA announcer confirming a 1-6 to 0-2 half-time scoreline.
The midlanders' only other score of a dull opening half arrived just after Tierney's free, with Donie Kingston on target. But, with Colm McFadden adding his first point, Donegal led by seven points at the break.
Laois manager Sean Dempsey introduced Donal Miller at the interval, and the Annanough man was to have a major impact in Laois' only dominant spell of the game.
Scores from Begley, Miller and Carroll in quick succession cut the gap to 1-7 to 0-5 after GMIT student Stephen Griffin had opened the half with a point for Donegal.
Laois, however, failed to score over the closing 24 minutes, as Donegal piled on the agony. McFadden and Griffin added some fine points during a four-point spurt, before corner back James Keaney raided forward and stabbed home Donegal's second goal after forcing net minder Gorman to release the ball.
Full-forward Murphy completed Donegal's hat-trick two minutes later when he punched home to the net, latching onto a centre from Adrian Hanlon.