GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Qualifiers Round 3:
Leitrim 1-11 Laois 1-13
Laois produced a strong second-half performance to finally see off a brave challenge from Leitrim in Páirc Seán Mac Diarmada on Saturday evening, and progress to Round 4 of the Qualifiers.
Leitrim were three ahead at the break but Laois quickly got level after the restart, and once the home side tired in the final quarter, Laois showed the greater fitness and composure to send over crucial scores and see out the win.
Leitrim led 1-8 to 1-5 at half-time after a rousing opening 35 minutes which seemed to take Laois by surprise.
Laoiss Gary Walsh got the first score of the game, but two Emlyn Mulligan frees for Leitrim were quickly followed by a sublime score from Ray Cox, which put the home side two ahead.
Laois had regained the lead by the 18th minute, with a Paraic Clancy score edging them in front at 0-4 to 0-3, but it was around then that Leitrim really began to take control of the game, and they quickly made it show on the scoreboard.
A Mulligan free levelled the sides, and then Leitrim got the first goal through Kevin Conlon, who finished superbly after a clever assist from Cox.
Leitrim were five ahead when Colm Clarke split the posts with a fine effort shortly before the break, but Laois then pounced on a defensive error to grab a goal, Conor Boyle being left with the task to finish to the net.
But Leitrim ended the half on a high, and a second Cox point left three in it.
The second half started slowly, with no score from either side for 10 minutes, but then two Laois points in a minute from Brendan Quigley and Billy Sheehan put the minimum between the teams.
Conlon edged Leitrim two ahead again shortly after, but a Ross Munnelly effort for Laois was followed by a fine equaliser from John OLoughlin, and then Munnelly sailed another one over to put Laois ahead going into the last 15 minutes.
Laois remained ahead for the rest of the game, and although Leitrim never let the lead go beyond two, they had run out of steam after a gallant effort, and Justin McNultys side were comfortable as they saw out the win and set up a clash in Round 4 against the losers of the Leinster final, either Dublin or Meath.
21-Jul-12 by Colette Fox – PRO