Four goals in six minutes of devastation sent Longford packing and set Laois up for a Leinster quarter-final clash with bitter rivals Kildare.
Three goals from the Kingston brothers — Paul (two) and Donie — broke the resistance of Denis Connerton’s men as the O’Moore Park clash petered out in disappointing fashion.
Longford last qualified for a Leinster semi-final in 1988 and they will again hope to collect a scalp or two in the qualifiers after being soundly beaten here.
Laois boss Peter Creedon saw his side break the game just before the half with Paul Kingston first dummying before finding the net, and then quickly turning over a kickout for brother Donie to finish in his trademark classy style.
“They are good players and today we got good ball into them,” says Creedon of his side who were relegated to Division 4.
“On another day you mightn’t get such good ball in. There were times we felt we should have ran the ball through the hands a bit more but it’s a good win considering the league wasn’t overtly good for us.
“We knuckled down hard between the league and championship and getting (Brendan) Quigley back in the middle of the field, he put them under pressure on their kickout and I thought (Colm) Begley had a great game there too. There’s work to be done, we weren’t perfect either.”
Connerton was upset that Barry McKeon had not been awarded a score just before the double-blow, and felt his players let their guard down for the O’Moore County to profit.
“Then suddenly after half-time there were two more goals added on and that made it a particularly difficult task for us. It was four goals in three minutes of play and that was the nail in our coffin, there was no way to come back.”
The trouble for Longford through the first half was that it wasn’t just the Kingston brothers causing them trouble, but almost the entire Laois attacking unit.
Niall Donoher fisted over a point almost immediately,
Evan O’Carroll floated over a lovely left-footed effort just after, and then Paul Kingston opened his account inside four minutes.
Donie Kingston, who had created two of those white flags, knocked over a free won by Colm Begley, before coaxing over a beauty from 40 yards.
Robbie Smyth was Longford’s standout performer in the first half, hitting six of their seven points during that time-span — and 11 overall.
Of course Laois, all the while, looked to have scores in them. Eoin Buggie and Padraig McMahon came up to split the posts, and ball-winning John O’Loughlin linked up with Donie Kingston for his opener.
Longford hit four in a row to set up a mini-comeback but the Kingston brothers would stretch the lead from 10 to 07 heading for half-time out to 2-10 to 0-7. Firstly, Darren Strong knocked a ball into Paul Kingston, who spilt as he turned his man but then regathered to smash into the net.
Thirty seconds later, the O’Moore County had turned over yet another Longford kick-out. Donie Kingston found himself in the penalty area after trading passes with O’Carroll, and then rolled the ball past Paddy Collum.
When the sides came back out, Alan Farrell took a pass from Strong to slot home the third, before Paul Kingston put any lingering thoughts of a Longford revival to bed with another composed finish.
From then on, one eye was always on the clock for everyone in Portlaoise.
Longford fought on and hit some lovely scores through Smyth, Darren Gallagher and Conor Berry, but in reality it was a cruise for Laois.
Scorers for Laois:
P Kingston (2-1); D Kingston (1-4, 3 frees); J O’Loughlin (0-3); A Farrell (1-0); P McMahon, D Strong, E. Buggie, B Quigley, C Begley, E O’Carroll, N Donoher (0-1 each)
Scorers for Longford:
R Smyth (0-11, 6 frees); R McEntire, S McCormack, L Connerton, D Gallagher, C Berry (f) (0-1 each)
G Brody; D O’Connor, D Booth, P McMahon; D Strong, S Attride, E. Buggie; B Quigley, C Begley; A Farrell, E O’Carroll, N Donoher; P Kingston, D Kingston, J O’Loughlin
J Kelly for D O’Connor, 33 mins; G Dillon for Attride, 60 mins; J Finn NR for D Kingston, 68 mins; R Munnelly NR for O’Carroll, 70 mins; K Meaney NR for Donoher, S Moore NR for O’Loughlin, 74 mins
P Collum; D McElligott, B. Gilleran, A Farrell; D Brady, J McGivney, D Reynolds; J Keegan, D Masterson; R McEntire, S McCormack, M Quinn; R Smyth, L Connerton, B McKeon.
D Gallagher for Masterson, 30 mins; B O’Farrell for Farrell, HT; L Moran for Keegan, 41 mins; C Berry for O’Farrell, 57 mins; D McGivney NR for McEntire, D Mimnagh NR for Reynolds, 70 mins
Anthony Nolan (Wicklow).
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