Sheffield Wednesday 2 Sunderland 4
Keane was a youngster when Wednesday manager Laws was a senior player at Nottingham Forest before their career paths parted.
And it was the Irishman who Laws took under his wing at Forest who came out on top as the injury-hit Owls saw their brief hopes of a play-off berth, tattered and torn.
First-half goals from Keane's former Manchester United team-mate Dwight Yorke and Swedish winger Tobias Hysen put the visitors in the driving seat.
And early in the second half a third from David Connolly, a £1.4million summer buy from Wigan, was more than enough to finish off crestfallen Wednesday.
Yorke, rescued from Australian side Sydney by Keane in August scored his second goal for the club and his first since October.
It came with the slickest move of the match after the visitors had been on the back foot.
Yorke, a Champions League winner with Manchester United in 1999, showed the cool, clinical approach that once made him one of the Premiership's top strikers.
The 35-year-old linked cleverly with Connolly and Liam Miller, and finished off with a simple close-range shot past Mark Crossley.
Yorke, who has been given a rough ride recently by Sunderland fans, couldn't hide his joy at the goal. However, he picked up a booking for his extravagant celebrations as he leapt over the advertising boards and hugged as many of the 6,100 travelling fans as he could reach.
The goal fired the visitors with confidence and they could have extended their lead but a rifled low shot from Connolly was beaten away by Crossley and Stephen Elliott's follow-up was driven through a crowd but cannoned off the foot of the post.
Moments later Jonny Evans might have done better with a towering header but he was wide of the target.
Wednesday's problems piled up even more as Laws reshuffled, first when he brought off Burton O'Brien, struggling in an unfamiliar left-back role, and then when centre-back Graham Coughlan was left bloodied and dazed in an accidental clash of heads.
Seconds before half-time the game was put beyond Wednesday's reach when Hysen added Sunderland's second goal.
Connolly was involved again feeding out an astute ball to Dean Whitehead, who broke down the right and fired in a low cross that Wednesday failed to handle, and Hysen slotted the ball home with a crisp finish.
In the 59th minute Sunderland were out of sight. A splendid ball from Elliott split Wednesday's makeshift defence, and Hysen took full advantage down the left as he sent in another stunning low cross that was met by Connolly's emphatic strike past Crossley.
As Sunderland slipped into cruise mode, Owls substitute Burton threatened to pull one back but his shot was deflected over and a header from Marcus Tudgay was well wide.
Wednesday finally found the mark nine minutes from the end when Chris Brunt's stinging 25-yard free-kick crept under the keeper.
Wade Small grabbed a second four minutes later finishing off after a Tudgay shot but Carlos Edwards added a fourth for the visitors in the dying seconds.