While it was a day to forget for Wexford, Dublin made the long journey down to the South-East worthwhile as they handed new manager Humphrey Kelleher a winning debut, but it was embarrassing for home manager John Conran to see his charges make a first round exit for the second successive year.
It was only when Keaney stepped up his game that the alarm bells started. The centre-forward suddenly sprung into the game and in a five-minute spell between the 43rd minute and 48th minute he struck over six unanswered points, three from frees, to push his side into a 0-14 to 0-8 lead.
With the Dublin defence never going to leak a goal there was no way back for Wexford who were simply woeful through the closing quarter as they were outplayed all over the pitch, not helped by an over-elaborate approach in attack, resulting in point chances going abegging.
Kelleher was particularly happy with his winning managerial debut but is looking for further improvement. “It was a first game and we struggled at the start, but the lads played particularly well in the second half. It gives us something to build on in preparation for the league.”
DUBLIN: B McLoughlin, K. Elliot, S. Perkins, D. Spain, D. O’Reilly, S. Hiney, K. Ryan, C. Keaney (0-6, 3 frees), R. Fallon, M. Carton (0-1), L. Ryan (0-2), D. Sweeney (0-1), S. Martin (0-2), M. Breathnach (0-3), K. Flynn (0-1). Subs: A. Glennon for Martin; F. Chambers for Flynn; C. O’Brien for Elliot; S. Daly for Spain.
WEXFORD: J. Morrissey, C. Kehoe, D. O’Connor, M. Travers, K. Rossiter, D. Ruth, M. O’Leary, T. Mahon (0-2), B. Goff (0-1), P. Carley (0-4, 2 frees), D. Berry, M. Jacob, C. McGrath (0-1), R. Codd, R. Jacob (0-1). Subs: A. O’Connell for O’Connor; L. Murphy (0-1) for Berry.
Referee: P. Dunphy (Kilkenny).
THE work-rate and finishing of the Offaly attack was the crucial factor in this Walsh Cup quarter-final played before about a thousand fans at St Brendan's Park, Birr yesterday.
In a contest in which the sides were level on four occasions, the Offaly forwards invariably seemed aware of the whereabouts of their attacking colleagues, and the match was marked by frequent passages of neat and intricate play by the home attack.
Left corner-forward Damien Murray who switched to the no 12 spot early in the first half, bagged five points, four from play, including a glorious lift and straight strike effort from over 60 meters on 50 minutes which put Offaly 1-15 to 0-13 ahead.
Also, particularly impressive in the Faithful attack were dual star Neville Coughlan and two newcomers, Richie McRedmond and Dylan Hayden.
Coughlan underlined his excellent finishing ability by cracking home
On 49 minutes, a long-range point from Francis Keenan pulled Laois back to parity at 0-13 to 1-10. But Offaly conjured up visions of the winning post by reeling off six points on the trot.
“On a few occasions, earlier in the match we had threatened to pull away so I wasn't that surprised when we at last succeeded in doing so,” remarked Offaly boss Mike McNamara.
“We haven't done any hurling practice yet, but I was pleased with the appetite and class that the players showed, particularly as we have a number of new faces,” he added. Despite the result, Laois supremo Paudie Butler expressed himself reasonably pleased with his side's performance.
“We shot ten excellent points in the first half, and I was happy enough when we were only one point down at half-time,” he said.
“But then in the second half, we had a number of foolish wides when going for points off half or even quarter chances.”
Scorers - Offaly: D Murray 0-5 (0-1f), R Hannify 0-4 (2f, 0-1 `65'), R McRedmond, D Hayden 0-3 each, N Coughlan 1-0, C Gath, S Weir 0-1 each.
Laois: L Tynan, J Young (2f) 0-3 each, T Fitzgerald, C Coonan 0-2 each, J Fitzpatrick, F Keenan, J Dunne, D Walsh, J Coonan 0-1 each.
OFFALY: S O'Connor; F Kealey, G Oakley, D Franks; N Claffey, P Whelan, A Franks; S Weir, B Teehan; C Gath, N Coughlan, R Hannify; K Kelly, R McRedmond, D Murray. Subs:
D Hayden for Weir (25); D Carney for Kelly (47).
LAOIS: K Galvin; L Mahon, Patrick Cuddy, C Cuddy; J Fitzpatrick, P Drennan, P Mahon; J Young,
F Keenan; C Coonan, L Tynan, J Dunne; D Culleton, D Walsh, T Fitzgerald.
Subs: J Coonan for Culleton (45), D Cuddy for Walsh (45), C Brophy for Dunne (59), J Walsh for Keenan (60), O Dowling for Tynan (70).
Referee: B Kelly (Westmeath).