Laois 2-18 Carlow 0-13
It was far from a complete performance by Laois but more than sufficient for them to advance to a Leinster semi-final against Galway.
Carlow never gave up but lost their discipline near the end, with three players sent off in the final four minutes.
The game was over by the time Shane Kavanagh, Jack Kavanagh and Paul Coady received their marching orders, with a seven-point flurry in the opening nine minutes of the second half the key period.
Allied with a three-point burst just before the interval, it turned parity into a 10-point advantage, and though Carlow got it back to six with a quarter of an hour still remaining, once Zane Keenan rammed a 20m free to the net in the 62nd minute, any risk of a surprise result was eroded.
There was a lot at stake and it showed, as nerves looked to play a big part in proceedings early on.
If anything, Carlow were the more eye-catching early on but wasted some free-taking chances, while Eoin Reilly made two very smart saves from Craig Doyle and Marty Kavanagh.
Both defences were on top and Laois, in particular, struggled to get any change until the second half.
With a half an hour elapsed, they had managed just two scores from play and six of their seven points came from the hurl of Stephen Maher, who finished with nine.
Critically, one of those scores was a Willie Hyland goal, at the end of a move started by an outstanding bit of defensive work from Brian Stapleton, and that enabled them to go in with a three-point interval advantage despite some fairly dismal shooting.
Carlow weren’t exactly clinical in front of the posts either. In contrast to their opponents though, all seven of their points came from play as they went in at half time trailing by 1-7 to 0-7.
Eddie Coady had two of those and when the excellent Hugh Patrick O’Bryne lofted over from 65m, the sides were level.
Laois finished well though, with a brace of points from Maher and an excellent score by Cahir Healy, after a clever interchange up the right flank.
They really upped the tempo after the resumption and Carlow couldn’t live with the higher gear. It was a period out of keeping with the game by and large but it decided its outcome.
Seamus Plunkett’s men had five points in five minutes, and seven in nine, with Maher, Willie Hyland and Matthew Whelan lofting over some brilliant points.
That made it 1-14 to 0-7 before Marty Kavanagh finally ended Carlow’s drought from a 44th minute free.
That prompted a run of four points for John Meyler’s charges but Joe Fitzpatrick and Healy drove over before Keenan’s goal and all doubt was removed.
Shane Kavanagh (straight red 67th), Jack Kavanagh (two yellows 67th) and substitute Paul Coady (straight red 69th) were all sent off to rub salt into Carlow’s considerable wounds.
SCORERS – LAOIS: S Maher 0-9(7fs); W Hyland 1-1; Z Keenan 1-0(f); C Healy, M Whelan(fs), J Fitzpatrick 0-2 each; T Fitzgerald, B Duggan 0-1 each
CARLOW: M Kavanagh 0-4(3fs); E Coady 0-3; D English(fs), HP O’Byrne 0-2 each, JM Nolan, S Murphy 0-1 each
LAOIS: E Reilly; B Stapleton, B Fitzpatrick, B Campion, JA Delaney; J Fitzpatrick, M Whelan, G Burke; C Healy, J Walsh; S Maher, Z Keenan, B Dunne; T Fitzgerald, N Foyle, W Hyland. Subs: D Maher for Campion inj (9); J Brophy for Dunne (42); B Duggan for Foyle (55)
CARLOW: f Foley; D English, E Nolan, D Shaw; HP O’Byrne, A Corcoran, D Byrne; R Coady, J Kavanagh; E Coady, S Kavanagh, S Murphy; C Doyle, M Kavanagh, JM Nolan. Subs: M Brennan for Murphy (47); P Coady for D Byrne (47); P Shaw for Nolan (51); D Roberts for Doyle (67); C McCabe for D Shaw (68)
REFEREE: J Ryan (Tipperary)