Laois unlikely to roll over to accomodate advancing Dublin juggernaut
History of clashes between the counties suggests a ten-point spread is hard on the midlanders
Dublin’s Michael Darragh Macauley in action in during the National League final against Derry. The midfielder will face an intriguing battle against Laois’s John O’Loughllin. Photo: Donall Farmer/Inpho
For a game that has Dublin down as 1/40 favourites with some of the more attention-seeking bookmakers, the history of this fixture contains far fewer napalm deaths than you might imagine. There was only a goal between them in an All-Ireland quarter-final two years ago and, even though Laois have to go back to 2003 for their last win, only the 2006 meeting was a complete annihilation. The spread may be 10 points but Laois have lost by that margin or more only twice in the past 50 years.
Point being, if institutional memory counts for anything, then there’s little chance of Laois laying down on the tracks just to be rumbled over here.
Tomás Ó Flathara’s side wouldn’t be what you’d call the most exciting 15 in the championship but they have size and experience on their side. Just because it’s close to impossible to make a case for them winning doesn’t mean a torching is inevitable.
A gallopDublin have started at a gallop in both of the past two seasons in Leinster, brushing Louth aside in 2012 and repeating the dose on Westmeath last year.
On both occasions, there was a palpable sense of their opposition lying back and taking their beating very early on. You would expect a team populated by the likes of Colm Begley, John O’Loughlin, Peter O’Leary, Kevin Meaney, Donie Kingston and Ross Munnelly to have much more about them.
And yet, isn’t that Laois all over? That half-dozen have been around a while and still they went to Aughrim in search of a first win in the Leinster Championship for three years.
The Justin McNulty era featured a couple of decent runs through the qualifiers but it was an abject failure in Leinster. Given their level of experience compared to some of the other counties in a weak enough province, that’s inexcusable.
Certain spotsSo their spirit should at least be willing here. Obviously, the flesh won’t compare in all areas but there’s no question they will fancy the battle in certain spots.
An afternoon’s to-and-fro between O’Loughlin and Michael Darragh Macauley should be entertaining (if exhausting) to watch. Same goes for that between Colm Begley and Paul Flynn. If Laois break even there, this will be sticky for Dublin, for a while at least.
If the league told us anything though, it’s that Dublin have no problem with sticky. They probably won’t have those 10 points in hand here but they should have five or six.