By Cóilín Duffy
Dublin 4-17 Laois 0-19
A 32nd minute Conal Keaney goal provided the platform for victory, as Dublin registered a 10-point victory win over Laois in the All-Ireland SHC Round 1 Qualifiers at O’Moore Park.
Laois looked dead and buried early on, and trailed by 2-2 to 0-1 after seven minutes with Mark Schutte smashing home two early Dublin goals.
But Laois resurrected the game and with Zane Keenan, Willie Hyland and Cha Dwyer impressive they levelled the tie at 0-10 to 2-04 after 23 minutes.
However, Keaney’s goal paved the way for a 3-09 to 0-13 interval lead, and Dublin never looked back.
The visitors were comfortable in the second half, with David O’Callaghan netting their fourth goal deep in injury-time.
Laois made just one change to their starting line-up, with Patrick Whelan introduced in place of John A. Delaney.
Ger Cunningham stuck to the same 15 announced midweek, although this included five changes from the semi-final replay loss to Galway.
Dublin began this game with firm intent, and within seven minutes of the throw-in had smashed 2-02 past the hosts.
It was Galway’s lone goal which paved the way for Laois to exit the Leinster Championship last time out, and the stick of Mark Schutte threatened to undo the O’Moore’s this time around.
The Cuala clubman raised the first of his two first-half green flags inside the opening 30 seconds, after a pass from Championship debutant Shane Barrett.
Laois hit two quick wides, and although Conal Keaney and Willie Hyland traded scores, Dublin kicked on with Barrett adding a superb point, before Schutte found the net for the second time.
2-02 to 0-01 ahead, Dublin were in command, but Laois worked hard to mount a comeback and fired five of the next six points.
Scores from Joe Fitzpatrick, Zane Keenan, a brace of excellent Charlie Dwyer points, and another Keenan free ensured a 2-03 to 0-06 score-line after 16 minutes.
Dublin had the ball in the Laois net for the third time after 15 minutes, but Conal Keaney’s effort was ruled out due to a square ball.
Keaney made amends with Dublin’s first score in eight minute, despite losing his footing, and with a tight angle close to the side-line.
Despite this score, Laois were dominant at this stage, with Joe Campion, Hyland, and Keenan firing points.
Keenan’s third score of the match ensured the sides were tied at 0-10 to 2-04 after 23 minutes.
Despite Dublin’s inaccuracy, which saw the visitors register nine wides by the interval, Ger Cunningham’s side came good before the break.
Paul Ryan’s first score of the game handed Dublin a lead they wouldn’t relinquish in the 26th minute, with Dillon, Mark Schutte and Ryan O’Dwyer also on target for points, before the Metropolitans completed their hat-trick.
Mark Schutte was again involved in Dublin’s third goal, but it was Keaney who smashed the ball to the net to open up a 3-08 to 0-11 lead in the 32nd minute.
Willie Hyland stopped the rot with a well struck point for Laois, but Dillon’s third point ensured a 3-09 to 0-13 interval score-line.
Laois introduced John A Delaney for Brian Stapleton at half-time, with Dublin making a strong start to the second half, adding a trio of unanswered scores, with Paul Ryan, Conal Keaney and Eamon Dillon on target.
The hosts responded well with points from Clough-Ballacolla duo Hyland and Stephen Maher, but Dublin were hard to stop.
While again the Metropolitans wides tally continued to mount up, they also registered some fine scores, with Johnny McCaffrey and Ryan on target as they moved 3-15 to 0-17 ahead entering the final quarter.
Scores were at a premium in the second half, with Dublin failing to score between the 47th and 66th minutes, while registering seven wides during this spell.
Laois added scores from substitute Neil Foyle, Keenan and Tom Delaney to ensure a 3-15 to 0-19 score-line with five minutes remaining.
Laois goal-keeper Eoin Reilly also denied Dillon of Dublin’s fourth goal in the 65th minute, but the visitors done enough with substitute David O’Callaghan netting in injury-time, on the way to a 10-point win.
DUBLIN: G Maguire; N Corcoran, C O’Callaghan, P Schutte; C Crummey, L Rushe, S Barrett (0-01); J McCaffrey (0-01), R O’Dwyer (0-01); C Boland, E Dillon (0-04), D Sutcliffe; P Ryan (0-05, 4f), C Keaney (1-03), M Schutte (2-01). Subs: S Durkin for Barrett (52); D O’Callaghan (1-00) for Boland (60); D Treacy for P Ryan (69); D Plunkett (0-01) for Sutcliffe (70)
LAOIS: E Reilly; D Palmer, C Healy, B Stapleton; J Fitzpatrick (0-01), M Whelan (0-01), T Delaney (0-01); P Whelan, P Purcell; S Maher (0-01), Z Keenan (0-06, 5f), C Dwyer (0-03); T Fitzgerald, W Hyland (0-04), J Campion (0-01). Subs: JA Delaney for Stapleton (HT); N Foyle (0-01) for Fitzgerald (43); J Walsh for P Purcell (44); PJ Scully for P Whelan (47); B Conroy for S Maher (68)
REFEREE: Johnny Ryan (Tipperary)