DUBLIN 3-23 LAOIS 1-7
WITH 30 minutes left, man-of-the-match Liam Rushe was summoned by Anthony Daly to the Dublin sideline, his day’s work done.
By that stage the game was well over — Rushe had managed 2-2 and shown enough to suggest that he will be the focal point of the attack against Kilkenny on June 23.
From the off, the big Palmerstown man made his way to the edge of the square and created havoc. His teammates pulled out to the wings to leave him in space and within 24 minutes he had rammed home two unstoppable goals, caught an amount of ball and created space for others. He won’t have it anywhere near as easy against Kilkenny.
It’s only seven years since Laois beat the Dubs 4-14 to 0-14. It’s also hard to believe that as late as yesterday morning the handicap betting on this game was Dublin minus 10. The midlanders came nowhere near that and put in a shocking display at O’Connor Park, Tullamore, yesterday evening.
When they hauled their big targetman Neil Foyle off at the break you wondered where the scores would come from — Foyle looked their only avenue of hope — but the fact is the scores never came anyway.
Still, Dublin could only play what was in front of them. They chose to stack their defence and leave space in attack and players like Paul Ryan responded with some fine scores.
What was obvious was their hunger even as the game had died a death. With 25 points in it and just 19 minutes left they were still gunning for goals.
They’ll be delighted that Conal Keaney, Stephen Hiney and Tomás Brady got a game under their belts and it was the perfect platform for their return.
When Laois’ Chris Murray and Willie Dunphy pointed with 14 minutes left it did nothing but draw ironic cheers from the 6,000 crowd. On the rare occasions they broke through, like when Tommy Fitzgerald and Murray did late on, Gary Maguire was up to the task and in super shot-stopping form.
Scorers — Dublin: P Ryan 0-9 (2 ’65, 3f), L Rushe 2-2, D Treacy 1-2, C Keaney, C McCormack, S Durkin 0-2 each, J McCaffrey, D O’Callaghan, D Sutcliffe, J Boland 0-1 each. Laois: N Foyle 1-0, W Hyland 0-3 (2f, 1 s-l), M Whelan 0-2 (1 ’65) C Murray, W Dunphy 0-1 each.
Dublin: G Maguire; N Corcoran, P Kelly, T Brady; S Hiney, J Boland, M Carton; J McCaffrey, S Durkin; C McCormack D Sutcliffe, C Keaney; D Treacy, L Rushe, P Ryan. Subs: D O’Callaghan for Rushe (40), S Lambert for Sutcliffe (44), M O’Brien for McCaffrey (49), D Curtin for Keaney (56), O Gough for Corcoran (59).
Laois: E Reilly; C Coonan, D Maher, G Burke; C Dunne, M Whelan, M McEvoy; J Walsh, S Hanlon; S Maher, B Dunne, W Hyland; T Fitzgerald, N Foyle, D O’Mahoney. Subs: C Murray for O’Mahoney (25), C Healy for Foyle (h/t), B Smith for C Dunne (44), W Dunphy for Walsh (55).
Referee: J Owens (Wexford)
– DAMIAN LAWLOR – Sunday Independent