Dublin shake off Laois to secure O’Byrne Cup win

Robert Shaw the latest player to make his Dubs debut as John Small is sent off

Ciaran Kilkenny starred in Dublin’s win over Laois. Photograph: Ken Sutton/Inpho

Ciaran Kilkenny starred in Dublin’s win over Laois. Photograph: Ken Sutton/Inpho

 

Dublin 1-13 Laois 0-11

There’s every chance that by the end of January, as many as 50 different players will have played competitively for Dublin.

The figure currently stands at 40 with Castleknock’s Robert Shaw the latest to make his bow in blue after coming on as a stoppage time substitute in the O’Byrne Cup final.

Dublin just about had things wrapped up by that stage though it took a considerable effort, with 14 players for the entire second-half following John Small’s dismissal, to see off a stubborn Laois.

Sean Bugler’s early goal was significant as it afforded Dublin a vital cushion throughout an entertaining game that still hung in the balance at the hour mark.

Tied after 47 minutes on the scoreboard, and a man down in personnel, Dublin ultimately closed out the game and secured their 10th pre-season title by outscoring Billy Sheehan’s side 0-8 to 0-3 from there on.

It was Dublin’s first O’Byrne Cup win since 2017 when Paul Clarke led the county’s development squad to success.

That win provided a springboard forward for future regulars Niall Scully and Brian Howard while Evan Comerford, Colm Basquel and Robbie McDaid also played. Five years on, Dublin manager Dessie Farrell feels it’s time for another group of talented rookies to step up and to similarly demand inclusion.

“One of the challenges we discovered from last year is just about the pipeline,” said Farrell. “It’s a number of years now since we had a significant cohort of players come through the ranks.

John Small was sent off during Dublin’s win over Laois. Photograph: Ken Sutton/Inpho
John Small was sent off during Dublin’s win over Laois. Photograph: Ken Sutton/Inpho

“I think 2017 was the last batch and that’s five years this year, so it’s a long time to go without one or two players stepping up and making a real contribution.”

With Armagh next up for Dublin in the National League next Saturday evening, we can expect the likes of Dean Rock, Con O’Callaghan, Comerford, McDaid, Jonny Cooper and Michael Fitzsimons to all be back.

Dublin will have Small too despite his 31st minute straight red card for an off the ball incident involving O’Carroll as that suspension will be served in next season’s O’Byrne Cup.

Of Farrell’s rookies, Lee Gannon and Ross McGarry stood up again impressively and helped them build on their 1-5 to 0-6 lead against a determined Laois side that begin their Division 3 League campaign away to Louth next Sunday.

Aaron Byrne and Tom Lahiff scored important second-half points for Dublin too as they turned the screw while stand-in captain Ciaran Kilkenny and Brian Fenton were both superb, supplying three of the team’s last four points.

Dublin: M Shiel; L Gannon (0-1, one mark), D Byrne, E Murchan; T Lahiff (0-1), J Small, K Kennedy; B Fenton (0-2), C McCormack; R McGarry (0-2), C Kilkenny (0-2), S Bugler (1-0); C Costello (0-2, one free), H Ladd (0-1), A Byrne (0-2). Subs: N Scully for Ladd (half-time), L O’Dell for McCormack (52), W Egan for McGarry (58), K McGinnis for Costello (69), R Shaw for Byrne (72).

Laois: D Bolger (0-1, one 45); J Kelly, T Collins, A Mohan; S O’Flynn, J O’Loughlin, C Fennessy; K Lillis, J Finn; B Byrne, E Lowry, C Murphy; M Barry (0-4, three frees), E O’Carroll (0-3), S Moore (0-2, two frees). Subs: G Walsh (0-1) for O’Carroll (32-34, blood), D O’Reilly for Murphy (50), D Kavanagh for O’Flynn (54), Walsh for Moore (57), B Daly for Finn (60), C Doyle for Fennessy (69), P Dunne for Lillis (69), D Doyle for Byrne (70).

Referee: C Reilly (Meath).

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