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Dublin exact revenge on Laois with 14-point win as classy Burke scores 1-16 in championship opener

Mattie Kenny’s side hit 2-31 in Croke Park tonight.

Dublin's Cian Boland and Donnchadh Hartnett of Laois.
Dublin's Cian Boland and Donnchadh Hartnett of Laois.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Dublin 2-31

Laois 0-23

CHAMPIONSHIP HURLING RETURNED tonight from an empty Croke Park with a yellow sliotar on the second last weekend in October – a sentence that sums up how weird 2020 has been. 

The delayed All-Ireland kicked off in underwhelming fashion tonight as Dublin enjoyed a 14-point win over Laois with Donal Burke contributing 1-16.

Burke was in devastating form from play and frees. He missed just one of his 14 shots from placed balls, hit a super point in the second-half and lit up the game with a fine goal in the opening period.

Mattie Kenny’s side avenged the shock defeat of July 2019 to Laois which ended their championship ambitions seven days after they dumped Galway out in Leinster.

They’ll take on Kilkenny next weekend for a place in the final and despite scoring 2-31, they’ve plenty to work on in the days ahead. 

Laois will have one more chance when they head for the backdoor. They battled hard and fought back to within six points entering the final 15 minutes before Dublin drove for home. Eamonn Dillon bagged 1-1 in a brief cameo off the bench to give his manager something to think about ahead of the showdown with Brian Cody’s side.

It was the first game played at Croke Park since 1 March, when Sarsfields won the All-Ireland camogie club title on Jones’ Road. Predictably, the pitch was looking in magnificent condition after a long summer without any action. 

The game did have a training match feel to it at stages but much of that was down to Dublin’s superiority on the scoreboard.

donal-burke-and-ryan-mullaney Donal Burke races through on goal. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Both sides made significant changes from the previous championship encounter with eight players retained on each starting team.

Laois were affected by Covid-19, losing two players to positive tests during the week. In total, they were without Matthew Whelan, Joe Phelan, John Lennon, Eanna Lyons and Cha Dwyer, while Jack Kelly and Mark Kavanagh were restricted to introductions off the bench.

Three youngsters made their Laois debuts - Ronan Broderick, Fiachra Fennell and James Keyes – while Dublin handed first championship appearances to Conor Burke and Davy Keogh.

Chris Crummey had been reinvented as a half-forward earlier this year before the season was halted. Mattie Kenny pushed the Lucan Sarsfields man into the full-forward line and his ball winning skills plus physicality meant he caused plenty of trouble up front before his 56th minute withdrawal.

Eoghan O’Donnell, injured for that famous shock in Portlaoise, played at wing-back initially and then moved into the corner, with Conor Burke acting as Dublin’s spare man in the full-back line.

St Vincent’s clubman Burke enjoyed a fine game. He covered his defence well and added a nice point after receiving a short puck-out and venturing upfield.

Na Fianna’s Donal Burke, another man who missed last year as he spent the summer in the States, was the standout forward of the night. His 24th-minute goal was sublime – a mazy run from the 45 metre line and low finish past Enda Rowland. 

padraig-delaney-dejected Padraig Delaney reacts at the final whistle. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Laois called on Rowland to make an important save four minutes later to deny Dublin a second goal after a fine move involving Cian Boland and Riain McBride.

Boland looked dangerous after he popped over a first-minute point and clipped over his second score from the sideline shortly before the interval.

With Burke proving deadly accurate on placed balls, scores were coming easier for Dublin. They had an extra man at the back because Laois played Sean Downey as their sweeper in a formation that worked well for them last year under Brennan.

But they conceded 1-17 here in the opening 35 minutes which spelt trouble for the Midlands county. 

Dublin were happy to punish fouling by Laois and three Burke frees helped push Dublin 11 clear five minutes after the restart. 

Laois used the ball better in the second-half and as the game got looser, they found space around the midfield to slot over scores from distance.

When Rowland bombed over a free from his own 45 and 65, Laois battled back to within six points by the second-half water break.

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Dublin’s superior fitness levels showed in the final 10 minutes. They hit eight of the last 10 scores, including Dillon’s wonder goal in stoppage-time.

Scorers for Dublin: Donal Burke 1-16 (0-11f, 0-2 65), Chris Crummey 0-3, Eamonn Dillon 1-1, Danny Sutcliffe, Conor Burke and Cian Boland 0-2 each, Davy Keogh, Sean Moran, Riain McBride and Mark Schutte 0-1 each.

Scorers for Laois: Ross King 0-10 (0-10f), Paddy Purcell, Aaron Dunphy, Enda Rowland (0-2f) and Stephen Maher 0-2 each, Ryan Mullaney, Fiachra Fennelly, Padraig Delaney, James Ryan 0-1 each. 

Dublin 

1. Alan Nolan (St. Brigids)

2. Paddy Smyth (Clontarf)
5. Conor Burke (St. Vincent’s)
4. James Madden (Ballyboden St. Enda’s)

3. Eoghan O’Donnell (Whitehall Colmcille)
6. Daire Gray (Whitehall Colmcille)
7. Cian O’Callaghan (Cuala)

8. Seán Moran (Cuala)
9. Riain McBride (St. Vincent’s)

10. Cian Boland (St. Oliver Plunkett’s Eoghan Ruadh)
13. Donal Burke (Na Fianna)
12. Danny Sutcliffe (St. Jude’s)

14. Davy Keogh (Thomas Davis)
15. Ronan Hayes (Kilmacud Crokes)
11. Chris Crummey (Lucan Sarsfields)

Subs

22. Eamon Dillon (St Finbarr’s) for Hayes (50)
26. Liam Rushe (St Psatrick’s Palmerstown) for Crummey (56)
18. Jake Malone (Cuala) for Gray (60)
24. Mark Schutte (Cuala) for Boland (68)
17. Shane Barrett (Na Fianna) for Moran (71)

Laois  

1. Enda Rowland (Abbeyleix)
4. Donnchadh Hartnett (Mountmellick)
5. Ronan Broderick (Clough Ballacolla)
2. Lee Cleere (Clough Ballacolla)

3. Sean Downey (Ballinakill)

6. Padraig Delaney (The Harps)
7. Ryan Mullaney (Castletown)
8. Fiachra C Fennell (Rosenallis)

13. James Keyes (Colt Shanahoe)
9. Patrick Purcell (Rathdowney Errill)

10. Aaron Dunphy (Borris in Ossory Kilcotton)
11. Willie Dunphy (Clough Ballacolla)
12. James Ryan (Rathdowney Errill)

14. Ross King (Rathdowney Errill)
15. Stephen Maher (Clough Ballacolla)

Subs

22. Jack Kelly (Rathdowney Errill) for Cleere (33)
19. Ciaran McEvoy (Portlaoise) for Broderick (35)
26. Mark Kavanagh (Rathdowney Errill) for Keyes (ht)
21. Conor Phelan (Castletown) for Mullaney (50)
24. Eoin Gaughan (Camorss) for Maher (68)

Referee: Paud O’Dwyer (Carlow)

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien  / reports from Croke Park

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