Kenny keeping feet on ground after subs ease Dubs past Laois
Dublin 1-18 Laois 1-16
Three wins from three for Mattie Kenny and now a looming date with his native county, Galway, in a Walsh Cup semi-final.
Yet the new Dublin boss was eager to contextualise all of this after yesterday's two-point victory over Laois in Portlaoise.
"The Walsh Cup is a pre-season tournament," he pointed out, just in case anyone was inclined to get too excited about his team's deep-winter unbeaten run.
"So we're taking it as that and we're working it towards the league and January 26.
"We want to use the Walsh Cup games to look at as many players as possible and get a bit of hurling into everyone.
"This week is our first week back in the new year. We had a heavy training week and today's game was part of that training week."
It showed. Dublin led by six points here after 15 minutes but trailed by two coming up to half-time as the labour of the previous days began to reveal itself.
It took two late points each from substitutes Feargal Whitely and Oisín O'Rorke to ensure the win and secure at least one more competitive game - next Sunday in Parnell Park - before Kenny begins his maiden league campaign against Carlow in the same venue on the last Saturday of the month.
"I know it was a pre-season game," Kenny stressed, "but there's still a bit of competitive edge to it. You still want to get your nose ahead at the finish."
As did Laois manager Eddie Brennan, who saw his team come from six down to go two points up shortly before half-time, with Aaron Dunphy and PJ Scully outstanding in attack.
"That match was there for us," insisted the Kilkenny legend. "Coming down the straight they dug in and we had a chance to get something out of that game. Maybe a little bit of fatigue set in, a few balls hopped out of lads' hands here and there."
Brennan set up with Donnacha Hartnett playing as an orthodox sweeper, a tactical move that allowed Seán Moran to operate in a tidying-up role right across the Dublin defence, a duty he performed superbly, particularly late on, as Laois desperately tried to hatch an equalising score.
Earlier, Eamonn Dillon had scored Dublin's goal after a brilliant batted assist from John Hetherton, who scored 0-7 (4fs) and was his team's most involved forward.
The day saw first appearances under Kenny for experienced heads like Liam Rushe and Eoghan O'Donnell, although the manager said that clearing up his squad's remaining injuries before the start of the league was high on his list of priorities.
Kenny also confirmed that his Ballyboden St Enda's contingent had commenced training with the squad following their run to last year's Leinster club final, revealing also that after lengthy consideration, Gary Maguire and Shane Durkin had both decided to retire after long inter-county careers.
"While it's nice to get the result, our main focus was to get hurling into the lads," added Kenny, who has used 33 players in Dublin's three Walsh Cup games to date. "That's what we achieved today."
SCORERS - Dublin: J Hetherton 0-7 (4fs), E Dillon 1-1, C Boland, J Malone, F Whitely, O O'Rorke 0-2 each, S Moran (f), C Crummey 0-1 each. Laois: PJ Scully 0-7 (4fs), A Dunphy 1-3, M Kavanagh (1f), E Rowland (2fs) 0-2 each, E Lyons, S Maher 0-1 each.
DUBLIN - A Nolan; D Gray, E O'Donnell, J Madden; S Barrett, S Moran, T Connolly; R McBride, J Malone; F McGibb, J Hetherton, C Boland; E Dillon, L Rushe, D Burke. Subs: L Gannon for Barrett (16 inj), F Whitely for Boland (30 inj), C Crummey for Connolly (h-t), O O'Rorke for Burke (43), D Keogh for O'Donnell (48), G Whelan for McBride (50), C Conway for Rushe (53), C Burke for Dillon (62).
LAOIS - E Rowland; P Delaney, M Whelan, J Phelan; J Kelly, R Mullaney, E Killeen; D Hartnett, P Purcell; A Dunphy, E Lyons, S Maher; M Kavanagh, PJ Scully, E Gaughan. Subs: S Downey for Gaughan (51), C Phelan for Kavanagh (58), J Cranney for Killeen (69), N Foyle for Lyons (70).
REF - M Murtagh (Westmeath)