LAOIS 1-22 DUBLIN 0-23
By Cian O’Connell at O’Moore Park
Something is stirring in Laois. A gripping game culminated in a shock Laois victory as Dublin left O’Moore Park reflecting on what might have been.
The guttural roar which greeted the full-time whistle told the tale as Laois dumped Dublin out of the Championship ensuring another match at Croke Park beckons for Eddie Brennan’s wonderfully resilient team.
Brennan has injected hope and optimism back into Laois, who claimed a stunning success on a blistering afternoon.
It was one of those days in which Laois had stars dotted around the pitch. Enda Rowland, cool and calculated between the sticks; Ryan Mullaney a forceful presence at centre back; John Lennon so controlled in a withdrawn role; Cha Dwyer’s relevance throughout; Willie Dunphy and Aaron Dunphy then had the poise to provide the grace notes.
Dublin were blitzed initially and simply couldn’t recover ensuring a most disappointing summer exit following the intense triumph over Galway at Parnell Park.
Buoyed up by last weekend’s Joe McDonagh Cup triumph Laois thundered into the contest with Aaron Dunphy pinching a 10th minute goal.
Willie Dunphy’s initial shot was blocked by Dublin custodian Alan Nolan, but Aaron Dunphy pounced to flick the sliotar into the back of the Dublin net.
That sharp intervention put Laois 1-3 to 0-2 ahead and when Mark Kavanagh added a free the locals were content with an encouraging start.
With John Lennon dropping deep to act as a sweeper in front of the Laois full back line Dublin were struggling to attain any real fluency in attack.
There were some decent bursts from Dublin and when the gap was trimmed down to 1-7 to 0-7 in the 21st minute following scores from Ronan Hayes (two) and Eamon Dillon Laois simply refused to panic.
Kavanagh lofted a free and then a splendid Ross King effort was gleefully saluted by the home support as Laois were increasing in belief and generating momentum.
Long rang points were subsequently supplied by Jack Kelly and Padraig Delaney, while Cha Dwyer remained an industrious and most effective contributor.
When referee Alan Kelly blasted the half-time whistle Laois, who struck 1-12 from 23 attempts compared to Dublin’s 0-10 from 20, departed armed with a deserved five point cushion.
O’Rorke and two neat Cian Boland points narrowed the gap immediately after the restart, but Laois hit three of the next four which was an important burst.
Dublin continued to trim the deficit with with O’Rorke’s frees restoring parity at 1-15 to 0-18 with 15 minutes remaining.
Laois, though, banged over three in a row from Willie Dunphy, Kavanagh (free), and Aaron Dunphy as the game continued to provide drama and excitement.
In the dying embers Dublin were still posing questions and two points divided the teams when Rowland rifled over a remarkable long range free.
Dublin required a goal and at the death Sean Moran had an opportunity from a free, but the sliotar was deflected over the bar. Laois survived and a Portlaoise party commenced.
Scorers for Laois: Mark Kavanagh 0-8 (7fs, 165), Aaron Dunphy 1-2, Willie Dunphy 0-4, Cha Dwyer and Enda Rowland (2fs) 0-2 each, Jack Kelly, Padraig Delaney, Paddy Purcell, and Ross King 0-1 each.
Scorers for Dublin: Oisin O’Rorke 0-12 (10fs, 165), Cian Boland 0-3, Danny Sutcliffe and Ronan Hayes 0-2 each, Eamon Dillon, Conal Keaney, Paul Ryan (f), and Sean Moran (f) 0-1 each.
LAOIS: Enda Rowland; Joe Phelan, Matthew Whelan, Lee Cleere; Jack Kelly, Ryan Mullaney, Padraig Delaney; Cha Dwyer, Paddy Purcell; Aaron Dunphy, Mark Kavanagh, Eanna Lyons; John Lennon, Willie Dunphy, Ross King.
Subs: Eric Killeen for Delaney (54), Conor Phelan for Kelly (58), Stephen Bergin for King (63), Eoin Gaughan for Kavanagh (70).
DUBLIN: Alan Nolan; Paddy Smyth, Shane Barrett, James Madden; Chris Crummey, Sean Moran, Darragh O’Connell; Sean Treacy, Tom Connolly; Conal Keaney, Cian Boland, Danny Sutcliffe; Oisin O’Rorke, Ronan Hayes, Eamon Dillon.
Subs: Fergal Whitely for S Treacy (53), Paul Ryan for Keaney (57), John Hetherton for Boland (65).
REFEREE: Alan Kelly (Galway).