Dogged Dublin grind it out against Laois

Mattie Kenny’s side show steel at a filthy Parnell Park as visitors avoid relegation

Mattie Kenny’s Dublin saw off Laois at Parnell Park. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Mattie Kenny’s Dublin saw off Laois at Parnell Park. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Dublin 0-13 Laois 0-11

It’s still relatively early days under new Dublin manager Mattie Kenny but a positive pattern of coming good in testing circumstances appears to be emerging.

Trailing Laois by a point with just minutes remaining at Parnell Park, as they also were against Waterford the previous Sunday at the same venue, Dublin conjured the scores to get the job done again.

Having ultimately outscored Waterford by 0-4 to 0-1 down the stretch a week earlier, it was three points without reply that did the trick for Dublin this time.

Former All-Star Danny Sutcliffe scored the first two of those points, displaying true leadership at a vital stage of the game, and Sean Moran then clipped over the insurance score from a 65.

The win takes Dublin to the top of Division 1B though it remains to be seen if they stay there as Galway can leapfrog them into top spot if they beat Waterford in their outstanding Round 5 encounter.

In truth, it doesn’t matter greatly if Dublin finish first or second this season with no promotion or relegation between 1A and 1B in operation, while they’re sure to face a difficult quarter-final tie whoever they play.

The bigger picture is perhaps that Dublin are coming good when the chips are down, unlike last year’s Leinster championship games against Kilkenny, Wexford and Galway when they lost all three by narrow margins despite being in a position to win.

And while they showed all their skill and style to record a 1-26 tally in the win over Waterford, this victory was down to sheer guts and determination as they simply refused to accept defeat and ground Laois down.

“It was a horrible day out there and as the game went on, the pitch deteriorated,” said Dublin manager Kenny. “In those conditions, hurling can be very difficult. Even guys getting the ball in space, they were losing their footing and their hands were gone cold. But look, the game went ahead and Laois brought a huge battle to us. They were very impressive on the day and they fought for everything.

“Dublin, likewise, fought back. It was a test of character. And that’s what impressed me the most - the attitude of our guys in the last 15 or 20 minutes. They worked so hard and tried to win every ball and they eked out a few scores that they needed to get across the line.”

By that stage of proceedings, Laois were down to 14 men following Charles Dwyer’s 57th minute dismissal for a second yellow card, a result of an incident that also merited a booking for Dublin’s David Treacy.

Dublin were digging in hard at that stage and outscored Laois by 0-5 to 0-1 in the last 20 minutes or so.

It wasn’t hurling for the purist as the rain poured down and the pitch cut up, making it difficult for the players to simply stay on their feet let alone master the skills of the game.

Laois coped best in that cauldron initially, racing 0-7 to 0-3 clear after 16 minutes but they only added another four points in the entire game, and just two of those came from play.

That was partly down to the excellence of Sean Brennan in goals for Dublin. A week after Alan Nolan came to Dublin’s rescue with a penalty save to deny Waterford at the death, Cuala netminder Brennan performed his own heroics and left the likes of Dwyer and Mark Kavanagh cursing his quick reflexes.

David Treacy was back on the frees for Dublin and converted three of them in the run up to half-time to leave Laois just 0-7 to 0-6 ahead.

The visitors refused to yield though and three points in a row from Paddy Purcell, Dwyer and Kavanagh between the 40th and 49th minutes left Laois 0-10 to 0-8 ahead.

They couldn’t push on though as Dublin, for whom substitute Oisin O’Rorke performed strongly after his half-time introduction, showed their determined streak again with points from Cian Boland, O’Rourke and then Sutcliffe and Moran to record their fourth win of the campaign.

There was good news afterwards for Laois when they learned that they still qualified for the quarter-finals and avoided a relegation play-off courtesy of Offaly’s win over Carlow.

Dublin: S Brennan; P Smyth, E O’Donnell, J Madden; D Gray, S Moran (0-2, two frees), S Barrett (0-1); J Malone, R McBride; J Hetherton (0-1), D Sutcliffe (0-3), D Treacy (0-3, three frees); P Ryan, L Rushe, D Burke. Subs: O O’Rorke (0-2) for Ryan h/t, C Boland (0-1) for Malone 47, E Dillon for Burke 47, R Hayes for Hetherton 53, F Whitely for Treacy 64.

Laois: E Rowland (0-1, one free); J Phelan, M Whelan, D Hartnett; P Delaney, R Mullaney, L Cleere; S Downey (0-1), W Dunphy (0-1); A Dunphy (0-1), M Kavanagh (0-4, three frees), C Dwyer (0-2); P Purcell (0-1), N Foyle, S Maher. Subs: S Bergin for W Dunphy 24, J Kelly for Maher 52, P Keating for Foyle 62, C Pheland for Downey 73.

Referee: L Gordon (Galway).

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