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Injuries a concern for Mattie Kenny as Dublin claim first League points with scrappy victory over Laois

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

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Dublin's Ronan Hayes in action against Pádraig Delaney of Laois during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Group B Round 2 match at Parnell Park in Dublin. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Dublin's Ronan Hayes in action against Pádraig Delaney of Laois during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Group B Round 2 match at Parnell Park in Dublin. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Dublin's Ronan Hayes in action against Pádraig Delaney of Laois during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Group B Round 2 match at Parnell Park in Dublin. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Dublin got their first points of this year's League with an untidy seven-point victory over Laois in Parnell Park this afternoon.

Two goals within a minute early in the second half swung the pendulum strongly in their favour, although Mattie Kenny has fresh injury worries over a raft of players after four limped off injured here.

It may only have been the first Sunday in February, but there was unmistaken pressure on Dublin to win here.

Of all the Liam MacCarthy teams, they fell flattest on the League's opening weekend.

The nature of last week's 12-point defeat to a Kilkenny team who played the majority of the game with a numerical disadvantage harked back to the bad old days for Dublin hurling.

That it was Laois who came to Parnell Park just a week later carried its own significance.

Eddie Brennan's team ruined a broadly progressive first season for Mattie Kenny in their All-Ireland preliminary quarter-final last July.

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Willie Dunphy of Laois in action against Paddy Smyth of Dublin during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Group B Round 2 match  at Parnell Park in Dublin. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Willie Dunphy of Laois in action against Paddy Smyth of Dublin during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Group B Round 2 match at Parnell Park in Dublin. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Willie Dunphy of Laois in action against Paddy Smyth of Dublin during the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 Group B Round 2 match at Parnell Park in Dublin. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

The optics of another loss to Laois, particularly at home, wouldn't have been great.

And Dublin started as though fully aware of all of this.

They already had four points scored by the time Eamonn Dillon nailed their first half goal in the ninth minute.

Oisín O'Rorke gathered a ball on the left wing and spotted Dillon in space straight in front of Laois' goal and his finish was emphatic.

At 1-4 to no score, Dublin could have run away with it but instead, allowed Laois to construct a score of their own.

Brennan's team hit the next four points although easily their best player was last year's All Star nominee goalkeeper Enda Rowland.

In the fourth minute, he tipped Dillon's first time strike along outside his left hand post.

In the sixth minute, Rowland stopped Danny Sutcliffe from scoring a goal at close range.

In the 27th, he denied Donal Burke.

All three strikes were low and to his left but each were crucial.

Laois' goal came in the 22nd minute when Seán Brennan repelled Aaron Dunphy's shot only for the ball to break kindly for Willie Dunphy, who tucked it away after a deflection.

Dublin also lost Dillon and Mark Schutte in that half to injury and with a gusty wind, found it difficult to make ball stick up front.

They led 1-11 to 0-8 at half-time but could easily have been further in front after Ronan Hayes saw his batted shot come back off the Laois crossbar – a fifth viable Dublin goal chance of the half.

Three points hardly constituted an authoritative lead given Laois had the benefit of a stiff but indirect wind to come in the second half but the dynamic of the game changed completely within three minutes of the start of the half.

First, O'Rorke rose and batted a shot that Rowland had again kept out, this time from Hayes.

Within a minute, Hayes was again heavily involved in a Dublin goal.

The Kilmacud forward dragged three Laois players with him as he ran diagonally across goal but had the vision flick a pass to Davy Keogh, who applied the finish.

Hayes was rewarded for effort in the 51st minute when he fielded over his man and slammed a shot past Rowland for Dublin’s fourth goal.

Laois could only land glancing blows.

And when they went long, they found Eoghan O'Donnell in mean humour.

Willie Dunphy squeezed a second goal to give the last few minutes a hint of drama but Dublin hung on.

SCORERS – Dublin: O O'Rorke 1-8 (7f, 1 ’65), D Keogh 1-2, S Moran 0-3 (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 0-7 (6f), S Bergin, C McEvoy 0-2 each, E Rowland (f), 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 (12 inj), J Hetherton for Schutte (31 inj), F Whitely for Madden (47), A Dunphy for O’Callaghan (38 inj), R McBride for Sutcliffe (60 inj).

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 (h-t), R Broderick for Senior (57), E Gaughan for A Dunphy (57), J Keyes for Purcell (61).

Referee: D Hughes.

Online Editors