DUBLIN 1-25 LAOIS 0-10
By John Fogarty
A Stephen Cluxton-less Dublin turned in a fine second-half showing to easily see off Laois to claim the county’s eighth Leinster SFC title in a row.
Donegal will be their opening Super 8 opponents again in Croke Park on July 14 or 15 where they will be without John Small after the replacement picked up a needless red card for striking Evan O’Carroll less than six minutes after coming on.
Cluxton had been named to start but, as per rule, Dublin were permitted to change him in the case of injury and Evan Comerford took his place between the sticks with Andy Bunyan taking a place among the substitutes.
Another Dublin substitute Jack McCaffrey had two goal chances denied by the Laois goalkeepers but, led by Ciarán Kilkenny, they were too strong in the second half, keeping Laois to two points and posting 10 points without reply.
Kicking nine wides and three shots short, Dublin have had fewer if any more erratic first half shooting display under Jim Gavin but they still led 1-8 to 0-5 after kicking the last five points of the period.
Watched by a 41,728 crowd, their first score was a Kilkenny goal in the fourth minute when he turned his marker and drop-kicked to the net after a Michael Darragh Macauley delivery. Inside the first six minutes, Con O’Callaghan had two goal attempts foiled and there was the little matter of Paul Mannion sending a 20th minute penalty wide when Niall Scully was impeded by Mark Timmons.
By that stage, Laois were nipping at Dublin’s heels, kicking three points in a row to draw level in the 17th minute before Kilkenny, the home side’s best forward in the first half, restored Dublin’s lead.
Alan Farrell had a goal chance in the 26th minute but chose to kick it over the bar and Dublin finished out the half with more certainty, Rock adding two, one from a free, before Brian Fenton, O’Callaghan and Paddy Andrews bisected the Hill 16 posts.
Scorers for Dublin: D. Rock (0-8, 5 frees, 1 45); C. Kilkenny (1-4); C. Costello (0-4); C. O’Callaghan, P. Andrews, B. Fenton (0-2 each); P. Mannion, N. Scully, B. Howard (0-1 each).
Scorers for Laois: D. Kingston (0-4, 2 frees); A. Farrell, G. Walsh (0-2 each); K. Lillis, E. O’Carroll (0-1 each).
DUBLIN: E. Comerford; E. Lowndes, P. McMahon, M. Fitzsimons; J. McCarthy, J. Cooper (c), B. Howard; B. Fenton, M.D. Macauley; N. Scully, C. O’Callaghan, C. Kilkenny; P. Mannion, D. Rock, P. Andrews.
Subs for Dublin: J. McCaffrey for E. Lowndes (h-t); C. Costello for P. Andrews (46); J. Small for M.D. Macauley (52); P. Flynn for C. O’Callaghan (55); D. Daly for P. Mannion (61); C. McHugh for D. Rock (68).
Sent off: J. Small (straight, 58).
LAOIS: G. Brody (v-c); D. Strong, M. Timmons, G. Dillon; F. Crowley, C. Begley, T. Collins; J. O’Loughlin (v-c), K. Lillis; A. Farrell, P. Kingston, N. Donoher; E. O’Carroll, D. Kingston, D. O’Connor.
Subs for Laois: B. Carroll for N. Donoher (48); R. Munnelly for F. Crowley (52); E. Keogh for G. Brody (inj 55); D. Holland for D. Strong (58); B. Glynn for A. Farrell (63); G. Walsh for P. Kingston (67).
Referee: B. Cassidy (Derry).