Neil Foyle was the hero as his 73rd minute strike sent Laois through to an All Ireland SHC Qualifier meeting with Dublin at Carlow’s expense.
Foyle’s strike capped an extraordinary final 20 minutes as Laois prevailed by 2-14 to 1-16 at O’Moore Park.
Laois had to contend with the first half sending off of their captain and leading scorer Ross King after an off the ball incident with Richard Coady, and it got worse for Laois when James Doyle picked out Marty Kavanagh in front of goal, and he left Enda Rowland with no chance.
Carlow were five points and a man up, but Laois responded well and fought their way back into the game with four points in a row.
Carlow briefly pulled three ahead before the break, but Paddy Purcell’s late point meant that just two points separated the teams at half time, 1-8 to 0-9.
Carlow stretched their lead to four points early in the second half, but the game turned in the home side’s favour when Sean Downey scored a brilliant goal in the 47th minute, and then Laois went on to edge ahead.
That set up a frantic finale, with Carlow soon three points down. But they roared back with four points of their own to take the lead amidst mounting tension.
Laois goalkeeper Enda Rowland pointed a long range free to level it, before Foyle hit the winner to snatch victory and set up a meeting with Dublin
Laois manager Eamonn Kelly, said: “It wasn’t looking great there, particularly down to 14 men with probably 65 minutes to go.
“They showed bit of character and God knows what will happen for next week.
“Will we have a team at all, we’ve so many injured. But listen, we’ll try to regroup and see where we can go from here.
“Enda’s was a huge free and another one went over. I could see it happening, our sub was coming on and he hit it, but then it didn’t stand.
“Listen a few of the puckouts went against us in the first half but he showed character, he knuckled down. He hit them well in the second half and got that brilliant point as well.”
All-Ireland SHC Round 1 Qualifier draw
Dublin v Laois (Dublin with home advantage)
Kilkenny v Limerick (Kilkenny with home advantage)
Offaly v Waterford (Offaly with home advantage)
Tipperary v Westmeath (Tipperary with home advantage)
Scorers for Laois: Neil Foyle, Sean Downey 1-1 each, Stephen Maher 0-3 (0-2 frees), Enda Rowland (frees), Paddy Purcell, Cahir Healy 0-2 each, Ross King (free), Mark Kavanagh 0-1 each.
Scorers for Carlow: Marty Kavanagh 1-2, Chris Nolan 0-4 (0-2 frees), Paul Coady 0-3 (0-1 free), Denis Murphy (frees), Diarmuid Byrne 0-2 each, James Doyle, Eddie Byrne, JM Nolan 0-1 each.
LAOIS: Enda Rowland; Dwane Palmer, Leigh Bergin, Lee Cleere; Eric Killeen, Matthew Whelan, Ciarán Collier; Jack Kelly, Paddy Purcell; Stephen Maher, Cahir Healy, Sean Downey; Mark Kavanagh, Neil Foyle, Ross King. Subs: Donncha Hartnett for Palmer (ht), Aaron Dunhpy for Kavanagh (42 mins), Cian Taylor for Maher (52 mins, inj), Aidan Corby for Collier (60 mins), Kevin McDonald for P Coady (64 mins).
CARLOW: Brian Tracey; Alan Corcoran, Paul Doyle, Gary Bennett; Richard Coady, David English, Richard Kelly; Jack Murphy, Diarmuid Byrne; John Michael Nolan, Paul Coady, Eddie Byrne; Denis Murphy, James Doyle, Martin Kavanagh. Subs: Dion Wall for Doyle (27, inj), Chris Nolan for D Murphy (43 mins), Jack Kavanagh for J Murphy (57 mins), Stephen Bergin for Downey (68 mins).