Having been reduced to 14 men; the Kingdom did enough to hold off the visitors in a fiercely contested Killarney clash.
An early red card for Kerry’s Tomás Ó’ Sé for punching Billy Sheehan and a 49th minute goal from Laois captain Colm Begley meant the visitors looked to be on course for a famous win at Fitzgerald Stadium. Last year’s All-Ireland finalists rallied however, dominated the closing stages and came out the right side of a 0-20 - 1-13 scoreline.
Bryan Sheehan (0-06) and Patrick Curtin (0-04) were inspirational for the green and gold who also sprung big guns Paul Galvin and Kieran Donaghy from the bench to ensure they got over the line.
The O’Moore men came into the game as underdogs and having trailed by two points in the opening minutes through scores from Darran O’Sullivan and Curting; the visitors responded with three points of their own from Gary Walsh, Begley and Munnely.
Kerry were then reduced to 14 men just before the ten minute mark as Tomás Ó’Sé lashed out at Sheehan to be shown line for appeared to be a possible game changing moment.
Kerry however, proceeded to dominate the remainder of the opening half with O’Sullivan and Curtin in particular bringing their shooting boots. Kieran O’Leary, Barry John Keane and Declan O’Sullivan all pointed towards the end of the first opening 35 minutes meaning that all six Kerry forwards had scored at the interval as they retired with an 0-11 - 0-07 lead at the break.
Laois went five behind from O’Sullivan’s boot but scores from Sheehan, O’Connor, O’Loughlin and Munnelly put the visitors right back in the contest and just one point adrift.
Begley then went through on goal to raise a green flag and put the visitors ahead for the first time as the home side looked in real trouble midway through the second half.
Galvin and Donnaghy were then brought on and the tide swung in favour of Kerry. Sheehan notched a long range free to put them in front and the home side never looked back from there. Substitute Anthony Maher, O’Sullivan, Sheehan, Curtin and Aidan O’Mahony closed out the scoring for the hosts, and Laois’ race was run.
Kerry now move on to a league semi-final as Laois need to beat Down in the final round of matches and hope that results elsewhere go their way if they are to avoid relegation from football’s top flight.