DUBLIN 3-13 LAOIS 1-10 DUBLIN hurlers broke a long losing sequence going back to last summer with this crucial nine-point win over Laois in this Guinness All-Ireland Championship Relegation Section semi-final at Dr Cullen Park, Carlow on Saturday.
This emphatic victory for Tommy Naughton's men means that the Dubs will participate in this 2006 chase for the Liam McCarthy Cup. It also reversed the 4-14 to 0-14 defeat to Laois in the Leinster Championship in May.
Laois now face Antrim in a game to decide whether they or the Glensmen hurtle through the relegation trap door and into next year's Christy Ring Cup campaign. As Laois manager Paudie Butler commented remarked afterwards, "A goodish year is going to be ruined if we don't beat Antrim."
Dublin's centre half-forward David Curtin left a major impression in this game, with a personal tally of 1-8. The Ballyboden-St Enda's club man may have been the last-named Dublin player on the line-out but with number 30 on his back Curtin started the game and played a pivotal role in his side's victory. Curtin's 27th-minute goal - when his 40-metre free dropped over the Laois goal-line - gave the Dubs a major lift as they went on to lead 1-8 to 0-3 at the interval.
Laois, who were very listless in the opening half, restarted strongly and when Philip Russell doubled on a breaking ball in front of the Dublin goal to crash the ball to the net three minutes after the restart, the Dublin lead was down to six points - 1-9 to 1-3.
Laois did cut the leeway to four points at one stage but their resolve was broken in the 57th minute when Dublin raided along their left wing and right corner-forward Emmet Carroll crossed for corner-forward Kevin Flynn to apply the finishing touch. Carroll himself struck for a goal in the 68th minute as Dublin won with something in hand.
Tommy Naughton was pleased with this Dublin victory and said he feels there is the potential to build a good side. But, he cautioned it will all be down to hard work and there are no guarantees.
His counterpart Butler bemoaned the fact that he was short some six players through injury but did pay tribute to "a big, strong Dublin team who are gaining in confidence".
James Young, the Laois dangerman in attack, scored 0-7 of his side's total, 0-4 from frees and two superb points from sideline cuts from almost the identical spot in the second half - the best two scores of the game.
SCORERS - Dublin: D Curtin 1-8 (1-5f, 2 '65s); E Carroll, K Flynn 1-0 each; D Sweeney 0-2; C Meehan, L Ryan, D Russell 0-1 each. Laois: J Young 0-7 (4f, 2 linecuts); P Russell 1-0; T Fitzgerald, M McEvoy, S Dwyer 0-1 each.
DUBLIN - G Maguire; G O'Meara, S Heaney, J Cullen; D O'Reilly, R Fallon, G Bennett; D Sweeney, D Russell; E Moran, D Curtin, T Moore; E Carroll, M Curtin, K Flynn. Subs: K Meehan for Curtin, L Ryan for Moran.
LAOIS - K Galvin; B Campion, P Cuddy, C Healy; M McEvoy, John Walsh, S Dwyer; James Walsh, E Meagher, J Rooney, J Young, P Russell, T Fitzgerald, M Rooney, D Culleton. Subs: C Brophy for Rooney, P Mahon for O'Meara, A Delaney for James Walsh, D Walsh for Campion, C Clear for Russell.
REF - B White (Tipperary).