Monaghan through to All-Ireland SFC Quarter-Finals
All-Ireland SFC Round 4 qualifier
MONAGHAN 0-19 LAOIS 1-11
By Paul Keane at Pairc Tailteann, Navan
A storming first-half performance in Navan eased Monaghan to a hugely significant victory which secured the last remaining spot in the new All-Ireland quarter-final group stage.
Malachy O'Rourke's side streaked seven points clear at half-time and used that cushion to repel a strong second-half performance from Laois.
The Ulster outfit and Division 1 side were good value for the Round 4 qualifier win though with Conor McManus top scoring with five points and 10 different scorers overall as they spread the points around.
Monaghan didn't score any goals but that was principally due to Graham Brody's excellence in the Laois goals with the 'keeper pulling off six great saves, three in each half.
Monaghan's reward is a place in Group 1 of the new All-Ireland quarter-final series with a Croke Park outing against Kildare to look forward to next weekend.
A gulf in quality was evident initially here with Monaghan finding scores easier to come by and creating them by various means.
Shane Carey, Jack McCarron and McManus all helped themselves to scores in the first-half as Laois found their defence under siege.
Karl O'Connell featured prominently in attack and curled over two eye catching scores from the outside of his right boot.
Laois, in contrast, had to fight so hard for any score they got and slipped 0-7 to 0-1 behind after 16 minutes.
Their first point from play didn't arrive until the 24th minute and even then Evan O'Carroll had to conjure a clever dummy to get clear of his man.
Monaghan defended with 15 behind the ball at times but had the guile and quality to launch a number of sumptuous counter-attacks which troubled Laois.
Two things gave Laois hope; Brody's performance in goals and a goal that they scored through Paul Kingston approaching half-time.
Kingston was guilty of over elaborating at times but shook off Fintan Kelly on this occasion before blasting low past Rory Beggan.
As for Brody, he pulled off three great saves in one-on-one scenarios, firstly from Kelly, then Ryan McAnespie and finally Conor McCarthy.
Monaghan still went in at the break with a double scores advantage, 0-14 to 1-4, and looked to be in a strong position to secure their 17th win in the back door series.
Laois upped the ante after the break and outscored Monaghan by two points in that period but needed goals and they never arrived.
In fact, it was Monaghan who continued to create the goal chances and they were left to rue the outstanding form of Brody who denied them on three more occasions.
Ryan McAnespie came into the game strongly for Monaghan in the final quarter and clipped over two fine points to keep Laois, who never got closer than four points in the second-half, at bay.
Monaghan scorers: Conor McManus 0-5 (0-2f), Shane Carey 0-3, Rory Beggan 0-2 (0-01f, 0-1 45), Ryan McAnespie 0-2, Karl O'Connell 0-2, Conor McCarthy 0-1, Jack McCarron 0-1, Niall Kearns 0-1, Fintan Kelly 0-1, Paudie McKenna 0-1.
Laois scorers: Evan O'Carroll 0-4 (0-1f), Paul Kingston 1-0, Donie Kingston 0-3 (0-2f), R Munnelly 0-3 (0-3f), Colm Begley 0-1.
MONAGHAN: Rory Beggan; Kieran Duffy, Drew Wylie, Ryan Wylie; Fintan Kelly, Vinny Corey, Colin Walshe; Niall Kearns, Darren Hughes; Ryan McAnespie, Shane Carey, Karl O'Connell; Conor McCarthy, Jack McCarron, Conor McManus.
Subs: Dessie Ward for Walshe (31-32), Dessie Money for Corey (48), Paudie McKenna for Kelly (48), Kieran Hughes for McCarron (52), Conor Boyle for Walshe (57), Neil McAdam for D Hughes (63), Dermot Malone for Carey (70).
LAOIS: Graham Brody; Gareth Dillon, Mark Timmons, Damien O'Connor; Trevor Collins, Colm Begley, Darren Strong; John O'Loughlin, Kieran Lillis; Alan Farrell, Paul Kingston, Bran Glynn; Ross Munnelly, Donie Kingston, Evan O'Carroll.
Subs: Benny Carroll for Farrell (h/t), Finbarr Crowley for O'Loughlin (42), Niall Donoher for Glynn (46), Eoin Lowry for P Kingston (50), Shane Nerney for Strong (61), Gary Walsh for Munnelly (68).
Referee: Derek O'Mahoney (Tipperary).