All-Ireland Qualifier Round 1A: Laois 1-11 Armagh 1-10

Armagh's Aidan O'Rourke challenges Paul Cahillane at O'Moore Park
Armagh's Aidan O'Rourke challenges Paul Cahillane at O'Moore Park

Armagh lost 1-11 to 1-10 to Laois in Saturday's All-Ireland Qualifier Round 1A game at Portlaoise despite staging a stirring second-half fightback.

The Orchard county trailed 1-5 to 0-1 at half-time, with Conor Meredith scoring the goal on the half hour mark.

Armagh were transformed after the break, Rory Grugan finding the net to help them move 1-8 to 1-6 in front.

Laois bounced back however and did enough to win, aided by the dismissal of Aaron Findon in the 67th minute.

Disappointing season for Armagh

The defeat completes a disappointing season for Armagh, who were relegated from Division Two of the Football League, but Laois will now face Clare in the next round of the series at Cusack Park, Ennis, next weekend.

The home side had beaten the Ulster county 1-10 to 0-10 when the teams originally met at O'Moore Park two weeks ago, but the match had to be re-played after the victors were found to have brought on seven replacements, one more than permitted.

Armagh were without injured captain Ciaran McKeever, who suffered a broken foot in training, with wing-back Mark Shields also ruled out.

As a result of their absence, Andy Mallon was flanked by Sean Connell and Stephen Sheridan in the half-back line.

Kieran McGeeney's side was also deprived of the services of James Morgan, Ciaran O'Hanlon and Ethan Rafferty, plus long-term absentee Kevin Dyas.

A tale of two halves

The hosts began strongly with three unanswered points, before Micheal McKenna registered the visitors' first score in the 14th minute.

Both sides were guilty of missing chances through wides but points from David Conway and Paul Cahillane ensured a seven-point half-time lead for Laois, who had Damien O'Connor black-carded.

McGeeney's half-time team talk seemed to work wonders as Grugan, moved to the full forward line, played a leading role in an incredible comeback after the break.

Grugan (1-2), Colm Watters (0-2), Stefan Campbell (0-4) and Brendan Donaghy (0-1) were Armagh's second-half scorers as they moved two points in front, before finally succumbing to their opponents.

Two points apiece from John O'Loughlin and Ross Munnelly proved enough to help their side over the line.

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