Dublin boss Mattie Kenny looks set to continue playing the numbers game with his panel in the Walsh Cup, as he tries to fine-tune preparations for the league.
Kenny watched his Dublin side narrowly edge past Laois in O’Moore Park yesterday, having now used 33 different players in their three games to date. That won’t change for their game with Galway next weekend, as Kenny admitted afterwards: “We’ll probably put out a completely different team again the next day.”
January is about experimentation and preparation, and this Dublin panel are right in the middle of both processes.
“The Walsh Cup is designed as a pre-season tournament, and we’re taking it as that,” said Kenny. “We’re working towards the the league on the 26th of January, to get an extended run in the league and prepare for the championship. We want to use the Walsh Cup games to look at as many players as possible and get a bit of hurling into everyone.”
Dublin started well but struggled to shake off a gutsy home side. They were six points up after 15 minutes and well in control, but 15 minutes later found themselves behind after Laois made some positional switches and began to make a game of it.
Dublin needed two John Hetherton points late in the first half to tie the scores at 1-8 apiece heading for the dressing rooms, Eamon Dillon and Aaron Dunphy with the goals.
Laois were the better side for the opening period of the second half, as PJ Scully fired them back into a two point lead, but a strong Dublin bench made the difference. They got 0-5 from their subs in the closing stages, with Oisín O’Rourke and Fergal Whitely getting two each to get them over the line.
Scorers for Dublin: J Hetherton 0-7 (4f), E Dillon 1-1, C Boland, J Malone, F Whitely, O O’Rourke 0-2 each, S Moran (f), C Crummy 0-1 each.
Laois scorers: PJ Scully 0-7 (0-4 frees), A Dunphy 1-3, M Kavanagh 0-2 (1f), E Rowland 0-2 (f, 65), S Maher, E Lyons 0-1 each.
DUBLIN: A Nolan; J Madden, E O’Donnell, D Gray; T Connelly, S Moran, S Barrett; R McBride, J Malone; C Boland, J Hetherton, F McGibb; E Dillon, L Rushe, D Burke.
Subs: L Gannon for Madden (16, inj), F Whitely for Boland (30, inj), C Crummy for Connelly (ht, O O’Rourke for D Burke (41), D Keogh for O’Donnell (48), G Whealan for McBride (49), C Conway for Rushe (52), C Burke for Dillon (63)
LAOIS: E Rowland; P Delaney, M Whelan, J Phelan; J Kelly, R Mullaney, E Killeen; D Hartnett, P Purcell; A Dunphy, E Lyons, S Maher; M Kavanagh, PJ Scully, E Gaughan.
Subs: S Downey for Gaughan (52), Conor Phelan for Scully (63), N Foyle for Lyons (69)
Referee: M Murtagh (Westmeath)