Dublin cruise to big win over Laois to book place in last eight
Dublin 3-23 Laois 0-17
THE pre-match script may have promised fireworks between two rivals gripped in a relegation battle. The reality proved more of a damp squib.
Dublin's early-season travails under new management have been banished – for now at least – after they coasted to a 15-point victory over Laois in Portlaoise today.
The result was never in doubt from the opening minutes at a sparsely attended O'Moore Park. In one emphatic swoop, the spectre of a Division 1B relegation play-off has been lifted and, instead, the Dubs now advance to an Allianz Hurling League quarter-final next weekend.
Laois, meanwhile, must lick their wounds and seek to engineer a winning raid on Antrim next weekend; otherwise they'll be destined for Division 2A.
Freetaker Donal Burke with 0-11 (four from play) led the scoring onslaught for Dublin but newcomer Ronan Hayes arguably deserves even more kudos having clipped 2-4 from play, his brace of goals coming in the last ten minutes.
Much earlier, even a fresh breeze blowing from the town end couldn't mitigate against a woeful first half performance from Laois, who trailed by 1-15 to 0-6 at the midpoint.
After a troubled debut league campaign, Pat Gilroy could not have asked for a more comfortable ride.
Early signal of the visitors' intent came in the second minute, when Paul Winters caught a long delivery from Burke to find himself clean through, one on one with 'keeper Enda Rowland … but his batted finish veered right and wide.
Not that Dublin had to wait long to get off the mark: the resultant puckout went straight to Burke and he fired straight over, kickstarting a run of five unanswered Dublin points before Cha Dwyer lifted the siege.
That Laois opener, on nine minutes, proved only a temporary reprieve. They were being eclipsed all over the pitch – destroyed in aerial combat and well beaten in the trenches too.
Dublin were already seven clear before their first goal arrived, almost inevitably, in the 19th minute. The lively Hayes showed a dexterous touch before releasing Ryan O'Dwyer, whose angled shot found the left corner.
The hosts rallied sound after the half-hour with a quick hat-trick of points – via Neil Foyle, a long-range Rowland free and Dwyer – but Dublin duly replied with a trio of their own, late in the half, to make it a 12-point mismatch again.
The frustration of Laois boss Eamonn Kelly was summed up by the fact he'd already made three substitutions before the break.
They subsequently fell 14 points adrift before a rally of sorts, led by sub PJ Scully with 0-6, cut the margin to nine. Not that the merest hint of a comeback ever threatened to ruin Dublin's day.
SCORERS - Dublin: D Burke 0-11 (6f, 1 '65'), R Hayes 2-4, R O'Dwyer 1-1, F Mac Gib 0-2, C Keaney, D Sutcliffe, J McCaffrey, P Ryan, C McBride 0-1 each. Laois: PJ Scully 0-6 (4f), C Dwyer, R King (2f) 0-3 each, N Foyle 0-2, E Rowland (f), B Conroy, P Purcell 0-1 each.
DUBLIN: A Nolan; P Smyth, B O'Carroll, E O'Donnell; S Barrett, C Crummey, J McCaffrey; C Costello, F Mac Gib; D Burke, C Keaney, D Sutcliffe; R Hayes, R O'Dwyer, P Winters. Subs: J Madden for Barrett (inj 24), C O'Sullivan for O'Dwyer (48), P Ryan for Winters (58), R McBride for Keaney (63), C McBride for Costello (67).
LAOIS: E Rowland; L Cleere, L Bergin, J Phelan; P Lawlor, M Whelan, E Killeen; P Purcell, J Ryan; B Conroy, C Dwyer, W Dunphy; R King, N Foyle, M Kavanagh. Subs: C Stapleton for Cleere (21), PJ Scully for Kavanagh (34), C Taylor for Killeen (34), E Lyons for Purcell (70), C Phelan for J Phelan (70).
REF: P Murphy (Carlow).