Fermanagh 3-11 Laois 2-13

Fermanagh sealed a Tailteann Cup quarter-final tie at Brewster Park with a win over Laois to take spot in Group 3 of the competition on a blistering day of football under the sun at Pearse Park Stadium in Longford.

Like Carlow, it was a tight affair all the way to the end with Laois pushing hard to recover the deficit in the final seconds, but Kieran Donnelly’s side held on to make it three wins from three having seen off Wicklow and Carlow before Saturday’s opponents.

Goals from Callum Jones (2) and Conor McShea would prove vital, but it was the timing of them more so that was key. Both teams kicked early wides until Seán Cassidy opened the scoring with a free and Joe McDade added from play two minutes later.

Garvan Jones added a free before Kieran Lillis and Paul Kingston got Laois back into it.

Ultán Kelm isolated his man and used his pace to find space and point, with a moment of mayhem then following.

A ball into Evan O’Carroll saw the big full-forward turn and find the net but an instant reply would cut short his side’s joy as from the kick-out a quick break up the field allowed Callum Jones to drill a shot low to the net to make it 1-4 to 1-2.

Mark Barry curled over a wide free and Sean McNally’s kick-out could only find Paul Kingston who punished the Erne side with a point.

However, Fermanagh’s timing was impeccable once again as Conor McShea drove through a host of bodies before rocketing a shot towards goal that deflected into the net to put his side three points up.

O’Carroll placed a free over with a few minutes to go until halftime with goalkeeper Killian Roche preventing another Kelm point as he caught the forward’s shot from range just above the crossbar.

O’Carroll ended the half with a point to leave the score at 2-4 to 1-6 as the teams headed to the dressing rooms to catch some much-needed shade.

Roche responded to early points from Garvan and Callum Jones in the second half with Declan McCusker slicing a shot between the sticks from range.

Quickfire points through Kingston and Eoin Lowry left one between the teams until Rioghan Murphy was brought down in the box and Barry stepped up to find the top right corner of the goal.

Shaun Fitzpatrick scored in between points by Horan and Largo Elis as referee Thomas Murphy then pointed to the spot again, but this time for Fermanagh, when Shane McGullion was bundled over on the run.

Callum Jones smashed the ball home from the spot to go three ahead again. Fermanagh’s final point came through Kelm when he answered Barry’s effort.

Two final Laois points through Mark Timmons and Kingston weren’t enough as Sean McNally also crucially punched away a high ball into the square in added time.

Fermanagh held onto their lead to see out a third Tailteann Cup win on the bounce.

Fermanagh team: Sean McNally, Lee Cullen, Ché Cullen, Johnny Cassidy, Declan McCusker © (0-1), Shane McGullion, Josh Largo Elis (0-2), Brandon Horan (0-1), Joe McDade (0-1), Callum Jones (2-1, pen), Conor McShea (1-0), Fionan O’Brien, Ultán Kelm (0-2), Garvan Jones (0-2, 2F), Seán Cassidy (0-1,1F).

Subs: Darragh McGurn for G Jones (50’), Conor Love for Cassidy (52’), Tiarnan Bogue for McDade (55’), Ronan McCaffrey for O’Brien (55’), Diarmuid King for C Jones (65’).

Laois team: Killian Roche (0-1, 1F); Dylan Kavanagh, Kieran Lillis (0-1), Mark Timmons (0-1); Séamus Lacey, Brian Byrne, Simon Fingleton; Damon Larkin, Conor Heffernan; Mark Barry (1-2, pen, 1F), Eoin Lowry (0-1), Kevin Swayne; Rioghan Murphy, Evan O’Carroll © (1-2, 1F), Paul Kingston (0-4, 1F).

Subs: Shaun Fitzpatrick (0-1, 1F) for Lillis (52’), Mikie Dempsey for Kavanagh (61’).

Referee: Thomas Murphy (Galway).