Carlow are into the provincial quarter-finals after a facile 2-17 to 0-12 victory over a lacklustre Louth side at Portlaoise.
Promoted to Division Three during the Spring, the upwardly-mobile winners carried that form into the championship as they outscored their hapless opponents by 2-7 to 0-3 after the restart - playing into a stiff breeze. Diarmuid Walshe and the brilliant Paul Broderick (1-8) pounced for the goals late on but a painfully disjointed Louth had already thrown in the towel before those scores arrived.
Carlow's reward is a tilt at Kildare in a fortnight, while Louth go into the Qualifiers on the back of an embarrassing losing streak that goes back to January.
A trio of late points from Darragh O'Brien, Broderick and Ruth propelled the winners into a deserved 0-10 to 0-9 interval lead as they kept going all the way to the short whistle while their ragged opponents inexplicably took their foot off the gas as the break drew close.
Tommy Durnin's point had the Wee County ahead by five points to four at the midway stage in the first half and a converted Ryan Burns free on 19 minutes left two between them. Dundalk Gaels clubman Gerard McSorley started brightly and he was on hand to fire over his second excellent point to make it 0-7 to 0-4 thanks to those three quickfire scores.
The first eight points were shared: Declan Byrne and William Woods - flashing one over the bar after a misplaced quick Robbie Molloy kick-out - notched the first two scores for Pete McGrath's team - but Sean Murphy replied and Broderick equalised, then traded points with Woods before McSorley nudged the losers back in front, 0-4 to 0-3. The Division Four finalists hit back again, only for the border county to kick on with three without reply.
Darragh Foley hammered over an excellent point from distance in the 21st minute to bring an end to Louth's three-point scoring streak and Louth lost their most experienced player, Derek Maguire, to a black card with 13 minutes left before the break, Foley clipping over the resultant free - his second successive point - to again close the gap to the minimum.
Hugh Osborne - Maguire's replacement - made an immediate impact by pointing but a Broderick free cancelled that score out as the Wee County led by eight points to seven with nine minutes left before the break.
Carlow's luck deserted them when Sean Murphy got in behind the Louth defence and smashed a fierce shot off the crossbar; it was a four-point swing as McSorley instantly posted his third point at the other end. But Turlough O'Brien's men refused to throw in the towel and points from O'Brien, the outstanding Broderick and Ruth handed them the narrowest of interval leads.
Louth had the wind behind them in the second half and Molloy again almost handed Woods a gift of a goal with another ill-advised kick-out, only for Daniel St Ledger to double the Barrowsiders' lead with a tremendous free from the deck into the wind.
The gap went out to four as Broderick clipped over a brace of frees; a Burns free presented Louth with their first point of the second half on 51 minutes, 0-13 to 0-10. Carlow were in control and Broderick swept over another superb pointed free with that trusty left boot to give them a four-point lead. A Durnin point gave the Wee County a sliver of hope with 13 minutes left but that was short-lived as Broderick expertly nailed another free.
The game was done and dusted when Walshe got on the end of a sweeping Carlow move to find the net in the 63rd minute and confirm his side's passage to the last eight. The floodgates opened as Broderick quickly supplied the second Carlow goal from close range three minutes later, 2-15 to 0-11.
Sean Gannon's point rubbed salt in the gaping Louth wound with a 69th-minute and corner back James Craven replied with what was the losers' third score of the second half.
Burns was red-carded for an off-the-ball incident as Louth's dismal day in the midlands finished on a fitting note. They are into the Qualifiers and, on the evidence of the year they've had so far, just about everyone else in there will be hoping to draw them.
Substitute Lee Walker sent over a late, late free as Carlow's final winning margin went out to eleven points. It could have been more.
Carlow - R Molloy; D Moran, S Redmond, C Lawlor; J Morrissey, D St Ledger (0-1f), C Moran; S Murphy (0-1), E Ruth (0-1); S Gannon (0-1), D O'Brien, D Walshe (1-2); P Broderick (1-8, 0-5f), D Foley (0-2, 1f), J Murphy. Subs: C Crowley for D Moran, L Walker (0-1f) for J Morriessey, M Rennick for D Walshe, K Nolan for C Lawlor, B Kavanagh for C Moran.
Louth - C Lynch; D Marks, E Carolan, J Craven (0-1); D Maguire, B Duffy, A Williams; C Grimes, A McDonnell; C Downey, T Durnin (0-2), G McSorley (0-3); D Byrne (0-1), W Woods (0-2), R Burns (0-2f). Subs: H Osbourne (0-1) for D Maguire (BC), R Holcroft for D Byrne, R Nally for W Woods.
Referee - N Cullen.