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Clare and Laois live up to their billing and earn place in draw

Marching on: Clare manager Colm Collins now has back-to-back wins
Marching on: Clare manager Colm Collins now has back-to-back wins
Declan Bogue

By Declan Bogue

Laois and Clare both lived up to their favourites' tag to emerge from the remaining round three qualifier ties.

They will join Mayo and Tyrone in the draw this morning, where they will be paired off against the losers of the provincial finals - Cavan, Meath, Cork and Galway.

Meath cannot meet Laois however, as the two have already met in the Leinster Championship.

In the midlands derby, Laois had five points to spare on a scoreline of 0-20 to 0-15. Having won promotion to Division Two this spring, Laois were expected to beat Offaly, who have shown something of an upswing in fortunes under the management of the experienced John Maughan.

The Kingston brothers contributed handsomely, firing over 10 points between them. Laois were able to bring in talented attackers Eoin Lowry and Evan O'Carroll off the bench to drive home their advantage in the final quarter.

Offaly battled gamely for the first period but the scores badly dried up when they played against the wind after half-time. By the 56th minute, they'd lost both their midfielders Eoin Carroll and Peter Cunningham, although the latter was curiously reintroduced in the closing stages.

Offaly haven't made it to the last 12 of the All-Ireland series since 2006 and the sides were level seven times throughout the first half alone.

Laois had to withstand a desperate bit of high ball attempts for Offaly at the finish, but did enough to get by.

Clare have the potential to be one of the stories of the championship.

Having survived in Division Two this season however, their talents are often underrated. Here they made it to the last 121 with a 1-13 to 0-15 win over Westmeath in Mullingar.

Banner boss Colm Collins is in his sixth year as county manager but this was the first time they have put back-to-back wins together in the qualifier series.

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