These two sides have acted as mutual yardsticks for one another’s progress in recent seasons, something which makes the scoreline all the more dispiriting for the losers this morning.
Dublin manager Humphrey Kelleher responded to last week’s humiliation against Waterford in Parnell Park by making five changes while Butler, unsurprisingly, left well enough alone after his side’s encouraging battle away to Kilkenny eight days ago.
Laois were quick to show that their recent competitiveness against the reigning league and All-Ireland champions after their display against Waterford has been no temporary high. They stormed into the lead after 13 seconds through midfielder James Walsh’s opening point. With only six minutes gone they were well worth their 0-4 to 0-1 lead.
There was no gale force wind buffeting the players in Portlaoise yesterday and even with the intermittent heavy rain, there was no excuse for either side not to put on a show. However, Dublin’s star player Conal Keaney could only watch in dismay as both his opening free and sideline cut travelled a combined total of 20 metres.
It went from bad to worse after 14 minutes when Laois corner-forward Tommy Fitzgerald fired in a goal from Damien Culleton’s pass but the referee called play back to award a penalty.
James Young made no mistake from the spot. By the time the midfielder departed with injury after 54 minutes he had collected a healthy tally of 1-7 from dead balls. Much of that helped his side to a 1-8 to 0-4 interval lead.
Dublin rallied briefly on the restart through a Keaney point followed by a Liam Ryan goal which owed much to sloppy Laois defending.
David Cuddy banged in 1-1, Young smacked over his last two frees, Fitzgerald, Liam Tynan and substitute Robert Jones contributed a point each and another substitute Eddie Jackman rifled in a third Laois goal.
That three-pointer summed up the day perfectly, being a combination of some good attacking Laois play and sloppy Dublin defending.
David Sweeney managed the last score of the game, Dublin’s first in 26 minutes, a sign if any were needed that the city side are in the grip of a serious crisis this term.
: Laois: J Young 1-7 (all frees), D Cuddy 1-2, E Jackman 1-0, J Walsh, 0-1, C Coonan 0-1, L Tynan 0-1, R Jones 0-1, T Fitzgerald. Dublin: L Ryan 1-2, C Keaney 0-3 (2 frees), D Sweeney 0-1.
K Galvin; L Mahon, Patrick Cuddy, C Cuddy; J Fitzpatrick, Paul Cuddy, M McEvoy; J Young, J Walsh; C Coonan, D Cuddy, S Dwyer; T Fitzgerald, L Tynan, D Culleton. SUBS: R Jones for S Dwyer 30, E Jackman for J Young 54, F Keenan for J Fitzpatrick 67, J Dunne for T Fitzgerald 68.
: G O’Meara; A de Paor, S Perkins, C O’Brien; S Hiney, K Wilson, S Daly; D Sweeney, R Fallon; C Keaney, L Ryan, M Carton; K Flynn, S Martin, T Moore. SUBS: S Callinan for M Carton 43, M Breathnach for A de Paor 50, S Mullen for S Martin 63.
: J McGrath (Westmeath).