Jim McGuinness’ skillful side had to dig in after Adrian Hanlon picked up a second yellow card just four minutes into the second half, and had to withstand a Laois comeback which saw an eight-point Donegal lead cut back to one.
Goals from super skipper Michael Murphy and the skillful Colm McFadden had given Donegal the edge – and those goals provide crucial as Donegal went on to win 2-11 to 0-16; a one point win.
Donegal made two great goal chances in the opening few minutes.
Laois’s Eoin Culliton saved well when McFadden’s fist met a right wing cross from Mark McHugh but Murphy converted the ’45.
Laois had another let-off when Dermot Molloy smashed a shot off the post, moments after Niall Donoher had brought them level.
McHugh and John O’Loughlin swapped points, and in the 18th minute, the Donegal team finally got the goal they deserved.
Murphy smashed a penalty in off the underside of the crossbar after he had been fouled by Darren Strong, and then McFadden pointed twice to give u a 1-05 to 0-03 lead.
Laois responded with two points to leave them trailing 1-05 to 0-05 at the break.
The second half got off to a brilliant start – with Donegal finding the net and a point within the first minute.
Murphy kicked a brilliant point, before picking up from the kick-out and sending McFadden through for a wonderfully taken goal.
Within a couple of minutes Adrian Hanlon picked up a second yellow card which sparked a Laois revival, with points from Paul Cahillane, Munnelly and Darren Strong.
The gap was reduced further to three points through substitutes Cahillane and Donie Kingston with 20 minutes left on the clock.
Kingston’s third the made it a one-point game but then Donegal dug deep as McFadden converted a free to end a 21-minute gap without a score.
Laois threw everything at Donegal and scored two more points but the Ulster side held on to deservedly take the Division 2 title.
On the evidence of this gutsy performance the Donegal team can have every confidence going into the Ulster Championship in three weeks time.
And they certainly defied all the media who had written them off just a few hours earlier.
Donegal: P Durkan, A Thompson, K Cassidy (0-01), K Lacey, M Boyle, F McGlynn, M McElhinney, R Kavanagh (0-01), K Rafferty, A Hanlon, M McHugh (0-01), D Molloy, R Bradley (0-01), M Murphy (1-03, 1-00 pen, 0-01f, 0-01 ’45), C McFadden (1-3, 0-1f).
Subs: N Gallagher for Rafferty, D McLaughlin for Molloy, D Walsh (0-1) for McElhinney
Laois: E Culliton, D Booth, K Meaney, M Timmons, D Strong (0-01), S Julin, P O’Leary, P Clancy, B Quigley, C Begley (0-01), J O’Loughlin (0-02), N Donoher (0-02), R Munnelly (0-02), B Sheehan, MJ Tierney (0-01, f).
Subs: C Healy for Booth, P Cahillane (0-03) for Clancy, D Kingston (0-04, 1f) for Tierney, K Lillis for Sheehan
Referee: M Duffy (Sligo).Tags: