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Revenge sweet as hurlers find feet

Allianz NHL Division 1B: Dublin 4-18 Laois 2-17

Roundly criticised after their below-par display against Kilkenny on the opening day of the league, Matt Kenny's Dublin hurlers went into Sunday's clash at Parnell Park knowing that they needed a good performance and more to restore morale within the camp.

Up against a Laois team who had knocked them out of the Liam McCarthy Cup last summer, the Metropolitans needed no extra incentive and on the day they went some way to silencing the doubters following this eight-point victory over the O'Moore County.

The injury to Eamon Dillon 11 minutes into the game had threatened to undo a good start which had seen the Finbarrs man find the back of the net after seven minutes.

But forced to improvise, Dublin, who rotated their inside line throughout the second half, would hit the visitors for three second-half goals, two of which came within a minute of each other.

The introduction of John Hetherton, son of former Dublin hurler Ciaran, certainly made a difference after the break. The Craobh Chiarain man had looked a bit exposed in Dublin's recent Walsh Cup defeat to Galway, but on this occasion he was transformed.

His two points aside, Hetherton fielded some excellent ball while also sending over two fine scores as Dublin used the diagonal ball to great effect in the second half.

For Eddie Brennan's team, that famous victory in Moore Park last summer seems a long time ago now. The former Kilkenny forward may not be able to draw on the cream of the talent at the moment and it may take a bit more bit coaxing from Brennan if he is to strengthen his squad heading into the championship.

Frustratingly for Laois, they had managed to overturn an early seven-point deficit to lead Sunday's game with 13 minutes to go in the first. But whatever momentum they had in the game was lost as they shot three quick wides after that.

The second half did not get any better for them, with a Willie Dunphy goal two minutes from time putting the gloss on what was a disappointing day for the visitors.

Dublin, for their part, had enjoyed some very good spell in the game, with Oisin Rourke sending over their first three scores from placed ball before Donal Burke stretched their lead to four points.

Then came their opening goal when Dillon snapped up a chance from the edge of the square after Danny Sutcliffe's initial effort had been saved by the keeper.

Laois finally woke from their slumber to post the next four scores and then eventually drew level when Dunphy fired past Sean Brennan after the Dublin keeper had initially kept out an effort Aaron Dunphy.

Jack Kelly would then edge Laois a point in front (the only time they led) to leave it at 1-7 to 1-6 to the visitors, but in a spell which saw Dublin twice create goal chances the home side finished the half stronger and a point from half-way by Burke left the Metropolitans up by 1-11 to 1-8 at the break.

And while Ciaran McEvoy would make it a two point game a minute after the restart, Dublin then Laois for two goals in quick succession. First, O'Rorke batted the ball past the keeper after Burke's initial shot had been blocked.

And then moments later some good foraging by O'Rorke would create the overlap for Ronan Hayes to square to Davy Keogh who duly fired the past the keeper to make it 3-11 to 1-9 after 39 minutes.

Dublin's third goal of the half arrived on 47 minutes when Hayes, having outfielded his marker, then fired past the keeper.

A rejuvenated Dublin side kept up their momentum after that, despite Dunphy firing in a late goal for the visitors.

Scorers: Dublin - O O'Rorke 1-8 (0-7f, 0-1 '65'), D Keogh 1-2, S Moran 0-3 (0-2f), E Dillon, R Hayes 1-0 each, D Burke, J Hetherton 0-2 each, R McBride 0-1; Laois - W Dunphy 2-1, R King 0-6 (0-5f), S Bergin, C McEvoy 0-2 each, E Rowland (0-1f), J Kelly, P Purcell, J Ryan, E Gaughan, A Dunphy 0-1 each.

Dublin: S Brennan; P Smyth, E O'Donnell, C O'Callaghan; C Crummey, D Gray, J Madden; S Moran, J Malone; M Schutte, D Sutcliffe, D Burke; E Dillon, R Hayes, O O'Rorke. Subs: D Keogh for Dillon (12min), J Hetherton for Schutte (31), F Whitely for Madden (47), A Dunphy for O'Callaghan (38), R McBride for Sutcliffe (60).

Laois: E Rowland; L Senior, P Delaney, D Hartnett; D Conway, R Mullaney, C McEvoy; J Kelly, F Fennell; R King, P Purcell, J Ryan; A Dunphy, W Dunphy, S Bergin. Subs: J Lennon for Mullaney (36min), R Broderick for Senior (57), E Gaughan for A Dunphy (57), J Keyes for Purcell (61).

Ref: D Hughes (Carlow)

Fingal Independent