Cunningham's resurgent Dublin going into 'different league'
Dublin 2-28 Laois 1-15
Ger Cunningham observed that "the bit of hurt was there" in Dublin's performance on Saturday night in Parnell Park.
"How they played against Galway the last day was felt in the rebound today," he reckoned, after his team's first public appearance since that dispiriting loss turned into a hammering of a chronically depleted Laois.
Cunningham didn't know who his team would face in the second round of Qualifiers when he spoke on Saturday evening, but it didn't really matter.
Dublin were in exalted company, the fourth name in a pot containing the teams ranked one, two and three in last year's Championship.
"We're going into a different league next weekend," he said, comfortable that no conceivable draw could come back to make a liar of the Dublin manager.
"All in all, we were very disappointed in our performance against Galway.
"So we were looking to bounce back straight away. And once we got the home draw here in Parnell we felt we had every chance."
Earlier, he watched his team move smoothly through what was a cathartic sort of evening. This was a gentle dip in the shallow end of championship hurling before submerging themselves completely next Saturday.
Laois, down too many of their most experienced and prolific players, did their best to stay competitive, but trailed by a point at half-time despite playing with a strong and straight wind.
In truth, once Eamonn Dillon scored his first goal after 40 minutes, the question wasn't so much who would win, but by how much.
"We were trying to break their spirit early in the second half," Cunningham admitted.
"Happy that we did that. It was a good bounce back."
Soon after, Dublin went on a run of 1-14 without reply.
They may come to reflect on it as the period in which they found their groove and rinsed some confidence from an otherwise turbulent season.
Dillon (2-4), David Treacy (0-9) and debutant Cian O'Sullivan (0-3) all filled their boots, but it was one of those evenings when almost everyone played well and judgement on the extent of Dublin's healing is best suspended for another week. The climb gets steeper from here.
"They're a good side," reflected Laois boss Eamon Kelly. "They've had a difficult couple of games this year, but that will stand to them no end."
Scorers - Dublin: E Dillon 2-4, D Treacy 0-9 (6f), C O'Sullivan, B Quinn 0-3 each, D Burke, D O'Callaghan, F Whitely 0-2 each, S Barrett, N McMorrow, J Hetherton (f) 0-1 each. Laois: M Kavanagh 0-6 (2f), P Purcell 0-5, E Rowland 1-1 (1-1f), M Whelan, C Taylor, C Collier 0-1 each.
Dublin: C Dooley 7; C O'Callaghan 7, E O'Donnell 7, F Ó Riain Broin 8; S Barrett 8, C Crummey 7, S Moran 7; B Quinn 8, N McMorrow 6; D Burke 6, L Rushe 6, E Dillon 8; C O'Sullivan 7, R O'Dwyer 7, D Treacy 8. Subs: F Whitely 7 for McMorrow (49), D O'Callaghan 8 for O'Sullivan (60), F McGibb 6 for Burke (62), J Hetherton 7 for O'Dwyer (65), T Connolly 6 for Moran (65)
Laois: E Rowland 7; D Palmer 6, L Bergin 5, L Cleere 5; E Killeen 5, M Whelan 6, R Mullaney 5; P Purcell 7, S Downey 6; C Healy 7, C Collier 6, J Kelly 6; N Foyle 5, A Dunphy 5, M Kavanagh 7. Subs: C Taylor 6 for Kelly (h-t), A Corby 6 for Dunphy (52), S Bergin 5 for Downey (56), D Hartnett 6 for Killeen (71), P Lawlor 6 for Collier (71)
Ref - J Keenan (Wicklow)