Laois 1-16 Antrim 0-13
Antrim’s miserable run in the Leinster SHC continued at O’Moore Park in Portlaoise when they were sent crashing out of the provincial title race by an improving Laois side.
Antrim have only won two games since they joined the Leinster championship in 2009 and were today bidding to win two in the same season for the first time.
But having defeated Westmeath in the opening round, Antrim found Laois much tougher and the progress being made by new manager Seamus ‘Cheddar’ Plunkett continues for the midlanders.
They got a perfect start with a goal from Tommy Fitzgerald after just six minutes and while Antrim rallied and went ahead after Shane McNaughton, Jackson McGreevey and Neil McManus found the target, Laois deservedly led at the break.
Zane Keenan was superb leading the Laois attack and they turned around for the second-half leading by 1-6 to 0-7.
The fancied Antrim side got a good start to the second-half with Neil McManus restoring parity with a free and then edging them in front with a 65.
But Laois did not wilt and they responded well with Stephen Maher and Keenan hitting some excellent scores.
Conor McKinley and Paul Shiels hit back for Antrim but Laois then took over and Willie Hyland pushed them in front with a good point.
Laois finished strongly as the Antrim challenge faded and the home side could afford for Keenan to blast a late penalty over the bar as they secured a morale-boosting win and a quarter-final date with a Carlow side that they defeated in a preliminary tie last year.
The winners of that game will go on to meet reigning Leinster champions Galway in the provincial semi-final.
Laois have not been in the last four in Leinster in nine years but will fancy their chances this year after this fine victory.
Laois: Z Keenan 0-5 (0-1pen), T Fitzgerald 1-1, S Maher 0-4 (2f), W Hyland & B Dunne 0-3 each.
Antrim: S McNaughton 0-5 (5f), N McManus 0-5 (2f, 1'65), J McGreevy, P Shiels & C McKinley 0-1 each
Antrim: R McGarry; C McKinley, A Graffin, B McFall; O McFadden, N McAuley, P Shiels; J McGreevey, T McCloskey; N McManus, M Donnelly, E McCloskey; C Clark, C Carson, S McNaughton.
Subs: K B McShane for McGreevey (30-32 blood), D Hammill for Clarke (h-t), K B McShane for Donnelly (h-t), R McCloskey for McGreevey (45), S Casey for E McCloskey (57).
Laois: E Reilly; B Stapleton, B Campion, J A Delaney; J Fitzpatrick, C Healy, G Burke; J Walsh, M Whelan; B Dunne, S Maher, Z Keenan; T Fitzgerald, W Hyland, J Brophy.
Subs: N Foyle for Maher (2-3 blood), N Foyle for Brophy (46), B Duggan for Burke (53), C Dunne for Walsh (61).
Referee: C Lyons (Cork).