Six targets Laois must hit to have any chance of troubling Jim Gavin's Dublin
It's seen as an open-and-shut case but could history (seven Leinster final wins by a cumulative 66 points) be turned on its head? Here are six targets Laois must hit to have any chance against Dublin ...
1. AERIAL BOMBARDMENT
Might fancy going this route if Stephen Cluxton doesn’t start. Evan Comerford is not the most physically imposing of ’keepers and Laois may launch a few missiles to test his aerial mettle and see if Donie Kingston might sniff out a goal.
Even when Cluxton played against Wicklow, Dublin were caught napping by James Stafford’s flicked finish.
James McCarthy duly switched to man-mark Stafford - a reminder that Dublin have never replaced Rory O’Carroll with a like-for-like towering No 3.
2. PUT FENTON/MacAULEY ON BACK FOOT
The Dublin midfield has become a consistent source of attacking plunder. Brian Fenton has added a prolific string to an already near-perfect centrefield skill-set - cue 1-7 from play in the first two Leinster rounds.
Restored for a consistent run of starts, Michael Darragh Macauley has been rejuvenated alongside and his trademark burst created Dean Rock’s goal against Longford. It’s imperative that Laois put Dublin’s midfield on the back foot, chasing towards their own goal.
3. AVOID EARLY GOAL CONCESSIONS
Laois should know, better than anyone. In Nowlan Park two years ago, this is what happened ... 13 seconds in, a Rock goal from the throw-in.
Then, in the fifth minute, Diarmuid Connolly added a second.
Dublin love to kill all hope through early green flags: they had two after 14 minutes against Wicklow, finished with four and it could have been closer to ten. Another brace arrived inside 24 minutes against Longford.
4. BAG TWO OF THEIR OWN
You can’t beat Dublin through points alone. Laois will need at least two goals to even sniff an upset. Paul Kingston’s emphatic hat-trick against Westmeath provides a potential template.
5. GET THE MATCH-UPS RIGHT
Goes without saying, but losing their skipper Stephen Attride doesn’t help John Sugrue’s cause in trying to suffocate the threat of Ciarán Kilkenny, Paul Mannion and Con O’Callaghan.
6. STAY IN THE GAME!
When they met in 2014, Laois led by two at the break ... and still lost by 11. It’s the only way, however, to create a frisson of Sky Blue doubt.