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Dublin: 8 °C Wednesday 19 December, 2018
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Dublin blow Laois away with 18-point victory to land record 8th Leinster crown in-a-row

Ciaran Kilkenny bagged 1-4 for the champions.

Dublin 1-25

Laois 0-10

Kevin O’Brien reports from Croke Park

DUBLIN’S VICE-LIKE grip on the Delaney Cup shows no sign of letting up.

Jonny Cooper lifts the Delaney Cup Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Jim Gavin’s side lifted an eighth straight Leinster SFC crown and the 57th in their history after brushing Laois aside by 16 points in front of 41,728 at Croke Park.

The nine-in-a-row that’s likely coming next summer would be the longest stretch of provincial dominance by any county in All-Ireland SFC history.

The only blots on the Dublin copybook were John Small’s 57th-minute red card for a strike to the face of Evan O’Carroll and their poor first-half shooting display. Small is now set to be suspended for Dublin’s opening Super 8s game in three weeks’ time.

The reigning champions shot nine wides in the opening period, missed a penalty and dropped two efforts into Graham Brody’s hands. They had a more polished performance in the second period and hit just one wide after the break.

Barry Cassidy shows John Small a red card Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

In the absence of Stephen Cluxton, who missed out with the rib injury he suffered in the semi-final against Longford, Jonny Cooper captained the Sky Blues while Evan Comerford deputised between the posts.

Ballymun stopper Comerford had a troublefree afternoon in goals on his first championship start and was able to go short with the majority of his restarts.

After 26 minutes, Laois were just 1-3 to 0-5 behind, but they were outscored by 0-22 to 0-5 for the remainder of the game. Dublin clicked through the gears and easily beat the 15-point handicap set by the bookies beforehand.

Laois, competing in their first provincial final since 2007, needed goals to stay in the game. Although they threatened with a few half-chances in the opening half and Donie Kingston looked dangerous, they couldn’t get the green flag that would have ignited their challenge.

The All-Ireland champions hit the net through the excellent Ciaran Kilkenny, who scored 1-4 and slipped through Niall Scully for the 20th-minute penalty he won. Paul Mannion sent the spot-kick wide and Dublin were denied further goals when Jack McCaffrey was twice denied by the goalkeeper in the second-half.

Dean Rock scored 0-8 from 10 shots and elsewhere James McCarthy, Scully and Brian Fenton all impressed.

Laois withdrew number 15 Damien O’Connor to a sweeper role and set-up with Donie Kingston and Evan O’Carroll in a two-man full-forward line that they targetted with long diagonal ball.

Dublin rotated Kilkenny in between full-forward and wing-forward, but he started the game at 14 as he often does. Eric Lowndes, who had pushed right up on O’Connor, sent a lovely delivery into the Castleknock ace who slotted home in the fourth minute to give his team the perfect start.

Brian Fenton and Donal Kingston Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Sugrue’s side typically defended with 12 men back and kept at least two players up at all times. They played a good brand of football and looked to kick-pass to the half-forward line every opportunity.

Rock tagged on a free, but Laois settled and kicked the next four scores, including three from Kingston, who was five inches taller than his marker Philly McMahon.

Despite dominating possession, Dublin’s shooting was erratic at times with Paddy Andrews, Mannion, Kilkenny and Rock all hitting uncharacteristic misses.

As the half wore on the runs of James McCarthy and Niall Scully from deep began to cut holes in the O’Moore rearguard. McCarthy set-up Rock for one from play and had a shot on goal foot-blocked by Trevor Collins which allowed his Ballymun team-mate clip over another free.

Meanwhile, Scully was taken down in the area for a penalty that was sent wide by Mannion.

Jack McCaffrey with Damien O'Connor and Mark Timmons Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Laois had a hint of a goal chance but Farrell opted to take his point as he bore down on goal while Kingston sent his last three shots of the half wide as his outfit went in 1-8 to 0-5 behind.

Dublin improved their execution in the third quarter with good scores from play arriving through O’Callaghan, Andrews, his 46th-minute replacement Cormac Costello and Kilkenny.

Kieran Lillis was the only Laois man to trouble the scoreboard from play third quarter as Dublin took complete control of the game.

Jack McCaffrey was intent on raising a green flag but was denied by Graham Brody and then after the Portlaoise stopper went off injured, by Laois sub goalie Eoghan Keogh.

Costello had four points on the board before the finish, while Howard chipped over a fine score. Gary Walsh arrived off the bench to add a couple of garbage-time points for the Laoismen, before Cooper lifted the crown.

Scorers for Dublin: Dean Rock 0-8 (0-5f, 0-1 45), Ciaran Kilkenny 1-4, Cormac Costello 0-4, Con O’Callaghan, Paddy Andrews and Brian Fenton 0-2 each, Brian Howard, James McCarthy and Paul Mannion 0-1 each.

Scorers for Laois: Donie Kingston 0-4 (0-2f), Gary Walsh and Alan Farrell 0-2 each, Kieran Lillis and Evan O’Carroll 0-1 each.

Dublin

16. Evan Comerford (Ballymun Kickhams)

2. Philly McMahon (Ballymun Kickhams)
3. Michael Fitzsimons (Cuala)
4. Eric Lowndes (St Peregrine’s)

6. James McCarthy (Ballymun Kickhams)
7. Jonny Cooper (Na Fianna)
5. Brian Howard (Raheny)

8. Brian Fenton (Raheny)
9. Michael Darragh Macauley (Ballyboden St Enda’s)

10. Niall Scully (Templeogue Synge Street)
11. Con O’Callaghan (Cuala)
12. Ciaran Kilkenny (Castleknock)

13. Paul Mannion (Kilmacud Crokes)
14. Dean Rock (Ballymun Kickhams)
15. Paddy Andrews (St Brigid’s)

Subs

21. Jack McCaffrey (Clontarf) for Lowndes (ht)
18. Cormac Costello (Whitehall Colmcille) for Andrews (46)
26. John Small (Ballymun Kickhams) for Macauley (52)
20. Paul Flynn (Fingallians) for O’Callaghan (55)
19. Darren Daly (Fingal Ravens) for Mannion (61)
22. Conor McHugh (Na Fianna) for Rock (68)

Laois

1. Graham Brody (Portlaoise)

2. Darren Strong (Emo)
3. Mark Timmons (Graiguecullen)
4. Gareth Dillon (Portlaoise)

7. Finbarr Crowley (Emo)
6. Colm Begley (Stradbally)
5. Trevor Collins (Graigcullen)

15. Damien O’Connor (Timahoe)

8. John O’Louglin (St Brigid’s)
9. Kieran Lillis (Portlaoise)

10. Alan Farrell (Ballylinan)
11. Paul Kingston (Arles Killeen)
12. Niall Donoher (Courtwood)

13. Evan O’Carroll (Crochta Ard)
14. Donal Kingston (Arles Killeen)

Subs

18. Benny Carroll (Portlaoise) for Donoher (48)
17. Ross Munnelly (Arles Kilcruise) for Crowley (51)
16. Eoghan Keogh (Mountmellick) for Brody (inj, 56)
24. David Holland (Portlaoise) for Strong (57)
19. Gary Walsh (Ballylinan) for O’Carroll (blood-sub, 60-63)
20. Brian Glynn (Portlaoise) for Farrell (63)
19. Walsh for Paul Kingston (71)

Referee: Barry Cassidy (Derry)

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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