Donegal to face Mayo after win over Laois

All-Ireland champions made to work hard by McNulty’s side but their class tells in the end

Donegal’s Colm McFadden celebrates a point with Michael Murphy. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Donegal’s Colm McFadden celebrates a point with Michael Murphy. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Donegal 0-14 Laois 0-8: So the All-Ireland champions are back in the mix, Donegal surviving a nervous test against Laois in their fourth round qualifier at Carrick-on-Shannon.

It was a significant improvement on their Ulster final defeat to Monaghan last Sunday, but still further progress is necessary ahead of a quarter-final meeting with Mayo, who were drawn alongside them after Tyrone saw off Meath in the last of the day's four qualifiers.

Indeed, neither team started as if their championship was on the line, slack passing and misfiring at both ends – but Donegal gradually settled into their familiar gameplan, supporting well and counter-attacking, and defending in numbers.

It was 12 minutes before Colm McFadden struck his first free for Donegal, but Laois briefly levelled it five minutes later when Ross Munnelly managed to find some space to shoot between the posts. But Donegal added four more scores before the break – points from David Walsh, Patrick McBrearty and Micheal Murphy, and another free from McFadden making it 0-5 to 0-1 at half-time.

Laois looked in trouble already and manager Justin McNulty didn’t look comfortable on the sideline, either. He was actually confronted by Jim McGuinness in the 27th minute, given the way some of his Laois players were wrestling with Murphy. McNulty twice shoved his counterpart away, but the All-Ireland winning manager kept his cool.

Donegal extended their lead to five points in the second half, on two occasions, but still Laois hung in there, points from Davy Conway and a free from Munnelly reducing it back to two – 0-10 to 0-8, with five minutes remaining.

Donegal looked a little shaken again, but held enough composure, McFadden and McBrearty conjuring up scores out of nothing to restore the advantage to four points – and with Neil McGee and Leo McGloone having the final word, it was more than enough to see them over the finish line first.

Laois ended up with 14 men too when Conor Meredith was red-carded at the death.