Laois win in Donegal
Laois bounced back from a heavy defeat at home to Mayo to take the points in decisive fashion against Donegal in Letterkenny.
Big Padraig Clancy on the edge of the square proved a match-winner for Justin McNulty's side as he caused havoc in Donegal's last line.
The visitors were on top throughout the first half but it was not until the last minute of the half that it was reflected on the scoreboard. Clancy was a major factor as he challenged for a high ball into the Donegal square, and Paul Cahillane picked up the break but was fouled by Karl Lacey as he shot for goal.
From the spot, Cahillane expertly sent Paul Durcan the wrong way to give his side a 1-6 to 0-4 half-time lead that scarcely did them justice.
Ross Munnelly had three great early scores, while 18-year-old Patrick McBrearty almost single-handedly kept Donegal in the tie, hitting all four of their first-half points.
"The work-rate was the key thing today. For the full 70 minutes, they gave their all. This is one game, we have won a game in Donegal. Armagh beat Kerry last night and this isn't going to decide the season. We will not get carried away with this," said McNulty.
The second half followed a similar pattern for long periods with Laois dominating the midfield exchanges and Donegal failed to raise a flag until the 60th minute.
By that stage, the Leinster side had tagged on another 1-3, with the goal courtesy of Clancy, who won another high centre from Darren Strong and turned to tap home from close range.
Minutes later, Clancy was through again but elected to lay off when it seemed easier to score a goal and the chance was gone.
Donegal did hit two goals inside a minute with eight minutes left, Anthony Thompson bundling home after Neil McGee's effort was saved, and Neil Gallagher adding a second almost immediately. There was some controversy over the Thompson effort, with the umpire raising the flag as the Laois defenders scooped the ball away.
But they proved to be consolation scores as Laois closed out the game and Donegal manager Jim McGuinness was left with the difficult task of looking for positives.
"It was a very disappointing performance and our energy levels were poor. We missed Michael (Murphy) and Colm (McFadden) a lot in the full-forward line.
"Overall, it was a disappointing display, especially for our supporters. We have a lot of work to do and we have three weeks before we meet Cork and Kerry."
Man of the Match - Padraig Clancy (Laois)
Scorers - Laois: P Clancy 1-1, P Cahillane 1-0 (pen), R Munnelly, D Conway (1f) 0-3 each, D Strong and C Begley 0-1 each. Donegal: P McBrearty 0-4 (2f), N Gallagher and A Thompson 1-0 each, R Kavanagh 0-2.
Laois - E Culliton 6; C Healy 6, K Lillis 7, P O'Leary 7; D Strong 6, J O'Loughlin 7, C Boyle 6; K Meaney 6, B Quigley 6; R Munnelly 7, C Begley 7, D O'Connor 5; P Cahillane 6, P Clancy 8, D Conway 7. Subs: C Kelly 4 for Cahillane (57), MJ Tierney 4 for Conway (67), J Kavanagh 4 for O'Connor (72).
Donegal - P Durcan 6; F McGlynn 5, N McGee 6, P McGrath 5; A Thompson 6, K Lacey 7, L McLoone 5; R Kavanagh 5, N Gallagher 5; M McHugh 5, R Bradley 4, M O'Reilly 4; D Molloy 4, P McBrearty 7, A Hanlon 4. Subs: David Walsh 4 for Molloy (h-t), S Griffin 4 for Hanlon (45), E McGee 4 for McGrath (57), Declan Walsh 4 for Bradley (67), E Waide 4 for Lacey (72).
REF - M Duffy (Sligo).