DUBS SCATTER LAOIS TO THE FOUR WINDS WITH STORMING FINISH.

Dublin 1-12
Laois 1-11

Dublin maintained their unbeaten start to 2015 with victory against Laois in Portarlington this afternoon in their last group game in the O’Byrne Cup.

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Laois won the toss and decided to play with the advantage of a very strong wind for the first half. They notched up the first two points of the game from the reliable free taking of Donal Kingston.

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The gale force wind was having a huge affect on the kick outs from Dublin’s Lorcan Molloy with most of them barely reaching the forty five metre line such was the strength of the wind. This in turn forced Dublin midfielders Denis Bastick and Emmett O’Conghaíle to drop back towards their own goal which led to a very congested area with Laois swarming around any Dublin players with the ball trying to force turnovers.

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Laois though failed to take advantage of the wind and struggled in the conditions either kicking passes too long or ballooning shots wide of the target. Dublin started to get on top thanks in no small measure to the strong running of Michael Fitzsimons,Eoin Culligan and Nicky Devereux from the back and also the impressive trio of Emmett O’Conghaíle,Shane Carty and the industrious Tomás Brady.

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Dublin’s first score of the half came from their own dead ball sharpshooter Dean Rock who again finished as the Dubs top scorer on the day. But Laois hit back with another Kingston free and then Padraig McEvoy hit a point,the first score from open play. Dublin responded and hit the next four points in a row,three frees for Rock and Dublin’s first from open play was scored by Cormac Costello to give the boys in blue the lead for the first time.

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A Laois equalizer was followed by the score of the half from Dublin’s Tomás Brady who was having a big influence on the game. Having initially won the ball Brady broke two tackles and played the ball forward down the line into the corner,he continued his run and the ball was fed back to him in space,he looked up looking for a teammate but seeing they were all tightly marked he took two steps to his left and hit a cracking shot right between the sticks. His point was sandwiched between two Laois points and the teams headed into the dressing rooms all square at six points a piece.

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Jim Gavin made some changes after the break with the introduction of two of Dublin’s regular defenders Rory O’Carroll and to the delight of the Dublin supporters after his horrific ordeal last year Jonny Cooper. But it was Laois who got the first score of the second thirty five minutes with another Kingston free.

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Dublin hit back after some great work out the field by the increasingly impressive Shane Carty and Tomás Brady,the ball was fed to Dean Rock who finished with aplomb to draw the sides level. Dublin then hit three unanswered points another pointed free from Rock was followed up by points from McManamon and O’Conghaíle to push them three in front.

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Two Kingston frees reduced the deficit before Dublin’s O’Conghaíle and Laois midfielder John O’Loughlin swapped points to leave the bare minimum between the sides going into the closing stages.

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With only four minutes left on the clock Laois looked as if they may have snatched victory when after a fine run through the Dublin defence Brendan Quigley found the back of the Dublin net to give Laois a two point advantage.

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But Dublin didn’t panic and a sweeping move that started at the back from the resulting kick out turned the game on its head. The ball was fed to one of the players of the game in the shape of Shane Carty who was just inside the Dublin half of the pitch.

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Shane took off and beat a number of defenders with his determined run and bore down on goal. Just as he was about to shoot with only the keeper to beat he was cynically brought down. Referee Cormac Reilly ran to the spot and outstretched his arms to indicate he was giving Dublin a penalty. He was immediately surrounded by a group of Laois players vainly trying to indicate the offense had taken place outside the square. But the referee rightly stuck to his original decision.

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Kevin McManamon placed the ball on the spot and waited for the protests to finish. When it all settled he cooly slotted the ball to the back of the net after sending the Laois keeper the wrong way and with three minutes left Dublin led by a point.

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From the kick out Laois were awarded a free in midfield which was moved further forward after Dublin prevented the quick free. The ball was played deep into the Dublin back line where again Laois were awarded another free which the reliable Kingston duly dispatched between the posts and a draw looked on the cards with only seconds to go.

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A quick kick out from Molloy found Cooper who fed Brady,a couple of passes later and O’Conghaíle found himself with ball in hand just inside the Laois forty five metre line. He looked up,took a small step to his right an unleashed a booming shot high into the grey sky and it sailed just inside the left hand post and over the bar to give the Dubs the lead and ultimately victory as the full time whistle blew seconds later.

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So attention now turns to next Sunday and the O’Byrne Cup Semi-Final against the old enemy Meath. The game will be played in Navan with a 2pm throw-in and it promises to be one not to miss. -Nigel

Dublin Scorers: D. Rock 0-06 (5f), K. McManamon 1-01 (1-00 pen), E. O’Conaighle 0-03, C. Costello 0-01, T. Brady 0-01.

DUBLIN: L Molloy; M Fitzsimons, E Culligan, D Daly; G Hannigan, J Small, N Devereux; D Bastick, E Ó Conghaile; T Brady, D Rock, S Carthy; P Ryan, C Costello, K McManamon. Subs: R O’Carroll for Daly (ht), J Cooper for Hannigan (ht), P O’Higgins for Bastick (45), P McMahon for Culligan (52), N Scully for Rock (52), H Dawson for Ryan (60).

Laois Scorers: D. Kingston 0-07 (6f), B. Quigley 1-00, P. McEvoy, C. Kelly, M. O’Halloran, J. O’Loughlin 0-01 each.

LAOIS: E Culliton; R Kehoe, M Timmons, G Hanrahan; D Strong, P Begley, P McEvoy; J O’Loughlin, B Quigley; J Finn, D Kingston, B Sheehan; K Meaney, M O’Halloran, C Kelly. Subs:G Dillon for Finn (45), A Campion for Kehoe (52), C Lennon for O’Halloran (60), G McEvoy for Hanrahan (black card 68).

REF: Cormac Reilly (Meath)

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