Wednesday 17 January 2018

13-man Dubs earn replay

DUBLIN 1-18 LAOIS 2-15 SHANE SCANLON DRAMA abounded as 13-man Dublin and Laois couldn't be separated after a thrilling Leinster SHC quarter-final at Nowlan Park last night.

In a game that provided tremendous entertainment throughout, Dublin overcame two red cards to take a one-point lead three minutes into injury time, but James Young came to Laois' rescue with a deserved equaliser from a free just seconds later.

The replay takes place at the same venue next Saturday (7.0) and after such excitement, it is sure to attract a lot more than the estimated 1,350 attendance.

Playing with the breeze, Dublin sprinted out of the starting blocks to hit four unanswered points in the opening five minutes.

While midfielder Young hit Laois' opening point from a free in the sixth minute, it was another 14 minutes before Paudie Butler's men grabbed their first score from open play.

However, the wait proved worthwhile for the Laois fans as Damien Culleton fastened onto a brilliant through ball from Young and found the net with a close range drive.

That goal, which put Laois in front (1-3 to 0-5) for the first time, unsettled the Dubs and so did the arrival of David Cuddy, introduced as a 20th minute blood sub for Robert Jones.

Cuddy wasn't on the field 30 seconds when he tumbled to the ground following an off-the-ball clash. Limerick referee John Sexton consulted with his linesman and the end result was a red card for Dublin midfielder Keith Wilson, plus a yellow for Cuddy.

Despite being reduced to 14 men, the men from the capital quickly recovered their composure and stayed firmly in touch thanks to the prolific freetaking of Tomás McGrane, who bagged eight points in the opening 35 minutes.

The teams entered the half-time break all square (1-7, 0-10) and when they came out, it was Marty Morris' men who made the early running again.

The Sky Blues took a three-point lead six minutes after the re-start when Laois 'keeper John Lyons batted down Shane Martin's attempted point into the path of Kevin Flynn, who pounced for an opportunist goal.

However, Laois regained the initiative 11 minutes later when Tommy Fitzgerald showed tremendous skill in a goalmouth scramble before rifling to the roof of the net. Soon after, a point from David Cuddy put the O'Moores three in front and Dublin's cause looked lost at that stage.

But the city slickers showed tremendous character to rally again, with the inspirational McGrane leading the way once more. They were also helped by a controversial 52nd minute incident when an angled effort from Liam Tynan found the net, but the umpire ruled that the ball had actually gone the wrong side of the post and waved it wide.

Dublin's determination saw them claw their way back to get within a point, but the comeback looked to be over when corner-back Keith Elliott became the second player to be sent off with two minutes remaining, this time for a second yellow card offence.

The drama wasn't over and incredibly, Dublin took the lead. Firstly, McGrane put them level with a 70th minute free from near the sideline, and two and a half minutes later, the same player showed his coolness when converting a 65.

However, it was not the final act as there was enough time for Young to equalise from a free in the fourth minute of injury time.

A relieved Marty Morris said he was delighted with the courage shown by his players in the face of numerical adversity.

"It was heart-stopping stuff and we looked under big pressure with the 14 men in the second half," the Dublin manager enthused.

"Thankfully, Kevin Flynn got that goal early in the second half which acted as a bit of a buffer and then Mossy McGrane was just phenomenal with the placed balls. With all he has been through in recent weeks, I thought it spoke volumes for his character. We could have stolen it at the finish, but there is nothing between the sides and a draw was a fair result."

Laois counterpart Butler also had no quibble with the outcome and is eagerly looking forward to the replay: "Both sets of players gave us everything and whoever wins next weekend, the game will bring them on for the semi-final against Kilkenny."

SCORERS: Laois - J Young 0-11 (0-7 fs, 0-1 65); D Culleton 1-1; T Fitzgerald 1-0; L Tynan, R Jones, D Cuddy 0-1 each. Dublin: T McGrane 0-13 (0-9 fs, 0-2 65s); K Flynn 1-0; S Martin 0-2; D Russell, M Carton, T Moore 0-1 each.

Laois: J Lyons; L Mahon, Pakie Cuddy, P Mahon; C Cuddy, Paul Cuddy, M McEvoy; D Rooney, J Young; J Phelan, R Jones, E Maher; T Fitzgerald, L Tynan, D Culleton. Subs: L Wynne for Maher (34); D Cuddy for Rooney (47); F O'Sullivan for Fitzgerald (56); P Drennan for Phelan (66); B McCormack for Wynne (70).

Dublin: B McLoughlin; P Brennan, S Perkins, K Elliott; S Hiney, C Keaney, K Ryan; K Wilson, C Meehan; S McDonnell, D Russell, K Flynn; T McGrane, S Martin, G Ennis. Subs: M Carton for McDonnell (27); T Moore for Ennis (56); D Spain for Meehan (63); and K Horgan for Russell (63).

Referee: J Sexton (Limerick)

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