Thursday 23 January 2020

Dublin claim commanding 14-point victory over Laois in Walsh Cup

Dublin 1-28 Laois 0-17

John Hetherton of Dublin in action against Ryan Mulllaney of Laois during the Walsh Cup clash at Parnell Park in Dublin. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
John Hetherton of Dublin in action against Ryan Mulllaney of Laois during the Walsh Cup clash at Parnell Park in Dublin. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Conor McKeon

Mattie Kenny has been keen to downplay the importance of results and performances at this embryonic stage of the hurling season.

Yet as a manager who believes in generating as much positive noise around his team as possible, the last few weeks can hardly have gone much better.

This was Dublin's third victory of this season's Walsh Cup, a 1-28 to 0-17 victory over Laois.

It means a sharp turnaround to play Galway on Sunday in the competition’s semi-final, but presumably the fulfilment of such a fixture is better than any training session just now.

Conceivably, you could make an argument that Dublin could do without the hassle of another match just a week before their League opener against Kilkenny in Nowlan Park.

But on this showing, they're heating up nicely.

Dublin led by 0-12 to 0-7 at half-time and had more than half the work done at that stage.

They finished with 14 different scorers.

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On a cold night and a heavy pitch, their hurling was unseasonably sharp.

And there were a couple of players making their competitive return from long term injury.

Cian O'Callaghan was a late addition to the named team, having missed all of last summer with a hamstring injury.

And Riain McBride, who similarly, hasn’t played for Dublin since last year’s Leinster SHC opener, gave the side much of their zip around the middle of the pitch, even if it was his midfield partner and St Vincent’s clubmate, Tomás Connolly who provided the smoothest striking.

Eight of the team that started last night against Laois did so on July 7, when Kenny’s season came crashing to a halt in O’Moore Park but there was no great symbolism to last night’s victory.

Ross King was the best on show for Laois and by the 52nd minute, they brought their lead back to four points.

John Hetherton then hit 1-2 in the space of five minutes to kill the game off as Kenny rotated his team by making 12 substitutions.

SCORERS – Dublin: J Hetherton 1-3, T Connolly, O O’Rorke (4f) 0-5 each, E Dillon, 0-3, F Whitely, M Howard 0-2 each, R McBride, R Hayes, A O’Neill, C Crummey, C Boland, D Burke, D Keogh, L McMullen 0-1 each. Laois: R King 0-7 (4f), A Bergin, A Dunphy, J Ryan 0-2 each, P Keating, S Bergin, E Rowland (f), C Stapleton 0-1 each.

DUBLIN: A Nolan; A Dunphy, P Smyth, J Madden; C O’Callaghan, D Gray, J Malone; F Whitely, R McBride; R Hayes, C Boland, T Connolly; O O’Rorke, J Hetherton, E Dillon. Subs: C Crummey for Gray (h-t), M Howard for O’Rorke (h-t), K Burke for Smyth (h-t), L McMullen for Whitely (h-t), D Burke for Boland (h-t), D Keogh for Hayes (41), P Crummey for O’Callaghan (47), O’Rorke for Dillon (47), A O’Neill for McBride (52), L Corcoran for Malone (55), E O’Donnell for Connolly (60), Connolly for Madden (68).

LAOIS: E Rowland; L Senior, F Flanagan, D Comerford; J Kelly, D Hartnett, R Mullaney; F Fennell, C Comerford; A Dunphy, J Keyes, J Ryan; P Keating, R King, A Bergin. Subs: P Purcell for Keyes (h-t), P Delaney for Bergin (h-t), C Stapleton for Mullaney (47), S Bergin for Keating (47), E Gaughan for Comerford (55), M Hennessey for Ryan (67).

Referee: B Redmond (Wexford).

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