Laois run Dublin close but quest for O’Byrne Cup goes on for fringe players

Deep in injury time it was Emmett O’Conghaile who landed the winning point for Dubs

Dublin 1-12 Laois 1-11

Not since Jason Sherlock scored two injury time goals eight years ago have Dublin lifted the O'Byrne cup but how high it is on their demand list remains to be seen.

Defending their National League and Leinster titles will occupy Jim Gavin's mind over the coming weeks and months but for now, after their third straight win in the Bord Na Mona O'Byrne Cup, this experimental team can look forward to at least a fourth competitive outing ahead of the opening round of the league season.

They made their first journey past the new junction at Newland’s Cross and after two comfortable victories in Parnell Park against Maynooth and Offaly, the trip to McCann Park in Portarlington was more testing than anticipated.

In contrast, Laois Manager Tomás Ó'Flatharta has more searching thoughts ahead of the National football league, which will see him make the journey to Mullingar at the end of the month. The Kerry man has seen his charges crumble against neighbours Offaly and when he demanded an improvement he watched his charges being torn asunder by the students of Maynooth College, which meant this game was only a matter of fulfilling the fixture against the Leinster champions.

While the visiting manager lined out several fringe players who will be hoping to at least get game time in the National League, Laois fielded most of what is available for both league and championship.

Only a handful of home supporters braved the elements at a windswept Portarlington and from the throw in the visitors set about establishing an early lead. But playing with the wind, Laois took control, shooting the first four points with two from Donie Kingston.

Dean Rock opened the Dublin account from a free after eight minutes but Laois continued to dominate, picking off some good points by Kingston and John O'Loughlin, but despite facing the strong wind Rock kept the visitors in touch.

On the change over, Rock landed two early points and another by Emmet O’Conghaile gave Dublin a three-point advantage at the end of the third quarter. The first real talking point saw Laois denied a blatant penalty after O’Loughlin appeared to be floored in the square but the Meath official waved play on.

It looked as if Dublin would pull away at this stage, instead Laois bounced back and points by Colm Kelly and Mark O’Halloran narrowed the gap to the minimum. Entering the final 10 minutes, Laois were pressing hard and were rewarded when a great passing movement was completed with Brendan Quigley hammering past the Dubs goalkeeper Lorcan Molloy with five minutes remaining.

Dublin, wanting to preserve their unbeaten run, equalised through O’Conghaile but when Laois went in front again they were awarded what home supporters thought was a dubious penalty and Kevin McManamon made no mistake. Kingston equalised after 71 minutes but deep in injury time it was O’Conghaile who landed the winning point.

DUBLIN: Lorcan Molloy; Michael Fitzimons, Eoin Culligan, Darren Daly; Nicky Devereux, John Small, Graham Hannigan; Denis Bastick, Emmett O'Conghaile (0-3); Tomás Brady(0-1), Dean Rock (0-6), Shane Carthy; Kevin McManamon (1-1), Cormac Costello (0-1), Philip Ryan.

Subs: Rory O'Carroll for Daly (ht), Johnny Cooper for Devereux (ht), Patrick O'Higgins for Bastick (45m), Philip McMahon for Culligan (52m), Niall Scully for Rock (52m), Harry Dawson for Ryan (59m).

LAOIS: Eoin Culliton; Robbie Kehoe, Mark Timmons, Gearoid Hanrahan; Darren Strong, Paul Begley, Padraig McEvoy (0-1); John O'Loughlin (0-1), Brendan Quigley (1-0); James Finn, Donie Kingston (0-7), Billy Sheehan; Kevin Meaney, Mark O'Halloran (0-1), Colm Kelly (0-1).

Subs: Gareth Dillon for Finn (45m), Adam Campion for Kehoe (52m), Ciaran Lennon for O'Halloran (59m), Glen McEvoy for Hanrahan (68m, black card).

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