Rushe strike opens floodgates for Dubs
Dublin 3-23 Laois 1-7
DUBLIN enjoyed a remarkably trouble-free evening as they trounced Laois in a very one-sided quarter-final in Tullamore on Saturday.
As the final scoreline suggests, this was a complete mismatch and a bemused Dublin manager Anthony Daly admitted afterwards that he anticipated sterner opposition -- Daly and Dublin certainly could have done with a stiffer test as they build for the season ahead.
As the Clare hero said, all Dublin could do was perform to the best of their ability and beat what was in front of them and they certainly did that with some style.
Daly or Dublin will not need to be told that Kilkenny in the Leinster semi-final will represent an entirely different proposition but this was still a satisfactory day's work for them.
Impressively fit and physically strong, Dublin played some very fine hurling and 3-23 was good scoring, no matter what the standard of opposition.
Dublin will be particularly pleased at the spread of their scores. Ten players got on the score sheet and by half-time, each of the starting six forwards and two midfielders had registered a score from play.
The winners were purposeful and fluent in their play. They moved the ball at pace, had a clear game plan and were stronger than their opponents in every sector.
For Laois, it was a very thought-provoking occasion and they now face a massive task to rebuild morale ahead of the qualifiers.
They were just so far off the pace, so far behind Dublin's level of intensity and skill, that it almost defied belief and it was not a pretty sight to witness a team being beaten in this manner.
Indeed neither side will have learnt a huge amount from this game. Dublin are clearly motoring in the right direction after the bitter disappointment of relegation in the league, yet they still don't really know where they stand, while Laois will take a long time to get over this result.
From the throw-in, it was clear that this was going to be a walk in the park for Dublin. They attacked the game with great enthusiasm, hitting three points in the opening five minutes before the outstanding Liam Rushe netted their first goal in the seventh minute.
With a strong wind on their back, Paul Ryan's free put Dublin 1-4 clear before Laois staged a mini revival of sorts with a point from a Willie Hyland free and a goal from Neil Foyle when he batted the ball to the net after a frantic goal-mouth scramble in the 14th minute.
Unfortunately for Laois, that was as good as their evening got as Dublin ruthlessly pulled out of sight. The winners added three points before a brilliant Rushe goal in the 23rd minute ended the game as a contest.
A third goal arrived courtesy of David Treacy in the 27th minute and at half-time, Dublin's safe passage was booked as they led by 3-14 to 1-1.
The second half was a pedestrian affair as the men from the capital eased off the pedal, emptying their bench, even taking off Man of the Match Rushe just three minutes after the restart.
Despite going through the motions at little more than half pace, Dublin were still ruthlessly efficient for the opening quarter of the second half and they went 3-22 to 1-1 ahead before Laois staged another brief rally.
Laois managed four points on the trot but these only drew ironic cheers, while Dublin's final point came from the hurley of Joey Boland. The losers closed their account with two fine points from Hyland, one a beautifully struck sideline and the other a free.
The referee's final whistle was a relief to everyone and the bottom line was that Dublin could have won by an even bigger winning margin if they had so desired.
scorers -- Dublin: P Ryan 0-9 (3f, 2 '65s), L Rushe 2-2, D Treacy 1-2, C McCormack, C Keaney, S Durkin 0-2 each, J Boland, J McCaffrey, D Sutcliffe, D O'Callaghan 0-1 each; Laois: N Foyle 1-0, W Hyland 0-3 (2f, 1 s-l), M Whelan 0-2 (2 '65s'), W Dunphy, C Murray 0-1 each.
DUBLIN: G Maguire 6; N Corcoran 7, P Kelly 6, T Brady 7; S Hiney 7, J Boland 8, M Carton 7; J McCaffrey 6, S Durkin 8; D Sutcliffe 6, L Rushe 9, C Keaney 6; P Ryan 8, C McCormack 7, D Treacy 8. Subs: D O'Callaghan 7 for Rushe (38), S Lambert 6 for Sutcliffe (43), M O'Brien 6 for McCaffrey (48), D Curtin 6 for Keaney (56), O Gough 6 for Corcoran (58).
LAOIS: E Reilly 8; C Coonan 6, D Maher 7, G Burke 5; C Dunne 5, M Whelan 6, M McEvoy 6; J Walsh 6, S Hanlon 6; S Maher 5, B Dunne 5, W Hyland 6; T Fitzgerald 5, N Foyle 6, D O'Mahoney 5. Subs: C Murray 6 for O'Mahoney (23), C Healy 6 for Foyle (h-t), B Smith 5 for C Dunne (44), W Dunphy 6 for Walsh (54).
REF -- J Owens (Wexford).