DUBLIN 1-20 LAOIS 2-15
By Paul Keane at Parnell Park
When Paul Crummey pointed for Dublin in the 68th minute just moments after coming onto the pitch, the hosts led by seven points and this Leinster SHC Round 1 encounter looked to be over.
Around 10 minutes or so later, the same Dublin players breathed sighs of relief after just about holding a resurgent Laois at bay and escaping with a two-point win.
It was a thrilling finale at Parnell Park where stoppage time points from James Keyes and PJ Scully, allied to a goal from goalkeeper Enda Rowland who smashed a free to the net, meant it wasn’t over until the full-time whistle sounded.
In the end, the right team probably won with Dublin shooting 18 wides on the night and berating themselves for not making life a whole lot easier on themselves.
Donal Burke top scored for the 2021 Leinster finalists with 13 points and came to the fore in the second-half with a series of points from play that proved to be significant.
Substitute Alex Considine provided a crucial cameo too, striking to the net in the 62nd minute shortly after coming on to the pitch.
That goal put Dublin five points ahead and they would be seven up when Crummey pointed, a cushion they required.
Next up for Dublin is a trip to Wexford next weekend while Cheddar Plunkett’s Laois will go from the frying pan into the fire with a Round 2 tie against Kilkenny.
This was a game Dublin were tipped to win with plenty to spare but, just like their 2019 Championship encounter against a Laois side then managed by Eddie Brennan, it was anything but plain sailing.
Dublin ultimately lost that All-Ireland preliminary quarter-final tie three years ago and, at half-time at Parnell Park, it looked as if history may repeat itself.
Laois led by 1-7 to 0-9 at that stage though it flattered them as Dublin had enough possession to be five or six points to the good.
The hosts struck 11 first-half wides in total with Chris Crummey, Davy Keogh and Burke all guilty of shooting multiple wides.
The misses badly undermined Dublin’s bid to put clear daylight between the teams and Laois took full advantage, netting in the 10th minute to move 1-3 to 0-3 clear themselves.
It was a fortuitous goal as Mark Dowling pounced after a long Ciaran McEvoy delivery into the danger area was only parried into the air by Dublin goalkeeper Sean Brennan.
Dublin responded with points from Burke – three converted frees – and Fergal Whitely but almost as soon as they regained the lead they lost it again as PJ Scully twice pointed for Laois, followed by a long range effort from goalkeeper Enda Rowland.
Scully rounded out the first-half scoring with a point deep into stoppage time to leave his team narrowly ahead at the interval.
Referee Liam Gordon didn’t endear himself to the travelling Laois support with a 14-7 free count in the first-half, in Dublin’s favour, allowing Burke to finish the opening period with six points from placed balls.
The frees kept coming in the second-half, and the wides, though Dublin did just enough to wrestle back the lead during the third quarter.
Burke, who’d yet to score from play, drilled two more wides from frees early in the second-half but then sniped three terrific points from play to more than make up.
He punched the air in delight in the 46th minute after a fine long range point which was set up by goalkeeper Sean Brennan who’d arrowed a pin-point pass to him after catching a point attempt from Laois.
It put Dublin two points clear for the first time and while it wasn’t a big lead, it was significant in a tense, low scoring encounter.
Sub Considine netted during his first involvement and with Dublin stretching their lead out to seven points, it looked done and dusted. Laois had one final kick though and they made it damn interesting in stoppage time with Rowland’s goal from a free and points from James Keyes and Scully pushing the Dubs all the way.
Scorers for Dublin: Donal Burke 0-13 (0-7f), Alex Considine 1-0, Fergal Whitely 0-3, Chris Crummey 0-1, Ronan Hayes 0-1, James Madden 0-1, Paul Crummey 0-1.
Scorers for Laois: PJ Scully 0-8 (0-5f, 0-1 s/l), Enda Rowland 1-2 (1-0f, 0-2f), Mark Dowling 1-0, James Keyes 0-2, Ross King 0-1, Aidan Corby 0-1, Cha Dwyer 0-1.
Dublin: Sean Brennan; John Bellew, Eoghan O’Donnell, Cian O’Callaghan; James Maden, Paddy Smyth, Donnacha Ryan; Conor Burke, Chris Crummey; Danny Sutcliffe, Davy Keogh, Donal Burke; Ronan Hayes, Fergal Whitely, Eamonn Dillon.
Subs: Aidan Mellett for Keogh 35-71 blood, Alex Considine for Dillon 61, Paul Crummey for Sutcliffe 68, Shane Barrett for Smyth 69, Mellett for D Burke 71.
Laois: Enda Rowland; Donnchadh Hartnett, Sean Downey, Podge Delaney; Ryan Mullaney, Liam O’Connell, Ciaran McEvoy; Fiachra C Fennell, Jack Kelly; Cha Dwyer, Paddy Purcell, James Keyes; Ross King, PJ Scully, Mark Dowling.
Subs: Aidan Corby for King 49, P Dunne for Delaney 56, B McGinley for Dowling 63, Ciaran Byrne for Dwyer 70.
Referee: Liam Gordon (Galway).