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Dublin women cruise into another Leinster football final

Mick Bohan’s side register a 28-pt victory over outclassed Laois

Sinead Aherne: Dublin’s captain scored 3-4 against Laois in the Leinster SFC semi-final. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Laois 2-03 Dublin 8-13

Dublin manager Mick Bohan hailed a 28-point victory over Laois in Sunday’s TG4 Leinster ladies SFC semi-final and challenged his in-form charges to get even better.

The Sky Blues blasted out an ominous statement of intent to kick-start their 2017 championship campaign, scoring eight goals into the bargain in Timahoe.

Dublin’s victory sets up another Leinster final with Westmeath on July 9th – the sixth successive year that the holders will contest the provincial showpiece.

Dublin will start as heavy favourites to retain the Leinster title and even without Lauren Magee, Deirdre Murphy and Siobhán Woods, Bohan emptied the bench against Laois.

He said: “We’ve done that all year, that’s the way the game has gone. You have 20 players to use and we’ll be using 20 in every game. We feel we’ve built a squad over the winter months and there are certainly people fighting for that jersey at the moment.”

In his previous term as Dublin boss, Bohan guided the Jackies to an All-Ireland final appearance in 2003.

And on this early evidence, they’ll emerge as serious Brendan Martin Cup contenders again, having lost out in the last three finals to Cork.

Dublin were excellent in their first championship game of the season, and led by 5-6 to 1-1 at half-time.

Having played with the breeze from the start, Dublin raced into a 2-4 to 0-0 lead before Rachel Williams, one of the better Laois players on show, scored her side’s opening point in the ninth minute.

But Dublin’s forward line was red-hot and when the dust settled, captain Sinead Aherne had collected 3-4, with Nicole Owens and Sarah McCaffrey grabbing a brace of goals each.

There was also a goal for Noelle Healy, who scored 1-4 from play to embellish another typically industrious display.

Laois captain Aileen O’Loughlin netted in the first half and sub Ciara Burke rattled home a fine effort with ten minutes left but Dublin were far superior.

Hat-trick

Even after Burke’s goal, Dublin had time for two late majors, McCaffrey on target before Aherne completed her hat-trick with a 56th-minute penalty.

Bohan added: “We’re delighted with that, they’ve worked really hard but we feel they played a bit of football there. That’s what it’s about at this stage, after the six months and the winter, going out and expressing yourself. That’s what they did.

“What was very pleasing about it was that they didn’t take their foot off the pedal, they played for the full 63 or 64 minutes. For sure, there are things we could do better. We were disappointed with a couple of the scores we leaked. We felt they were a bit soft.

“Some of the last passes or last decisions weren’t as good as they could be but for a first round, we were really happy with their output. Regardless, you have to keep striving to be better. We were happy with some of the things that took place, really happy with the approach the players have shown, a huge willingness to learn and get better. We feel that’s what’s taking place.”

Looking ahead to the Westmeath game in a fortnight, Bohan said: “I saw them in the league final against Cavan, obviously they’re back up in Division One next year, which is great for Leinster.

“I think Leinster needs that. It’s a whole new ball game in two weeks’ time – we’ll look forward to that and enjoy today.”