Dublin 1-16 Laois 0-11
Dublin were never forced to the well by a committed but limited Laois team as they set up a Leinster semi-final with Kildare with a workmanlike but comfortable eight-point victory.
One imagines that while there is plenty to work on, Dubs manager Pat Gilroy will be very pleased that his team didn’t feed the monstrous hype machine that surrounds the capital county with a demolition job on Justin McNulty’s side.
Mind you, if it hadn’t been for the cat-like reflexes of Laois goalkeeper Eoin Culliton, the margin would have been significantly wider.
The Timahoe netminder made four genuinely brilliant saves, three from the razor-sharp Diarmuid Connolly, and one other dive to his left to deny Bernard Brogan.
The majority of the Dublin scoring threat came from their full-forward line, with Connolly and the Brogan brothers contributing 1-11 between them. With Stephen Cluxton coming forward to convert three 45s, the reliance on the inside trio was very evident indeed.
Alan Brogan in particular was outstanding, as he matched excellent finishing with some astute prompting.
Bernard Brogan had a wonderful battle with Cahir Healy, who can be proud of his efforts in keeping the reigning Footballer of the Year to three points from play.
Unfortunately for Laois though, they carried very little attacking danger themselves, with only Ross Munnelly and Daithi Carroll looking likely. Donie Kingston had no impact after his half-time introduction although the absence of a direct supply might have something to do with that.
Gary Kavanagh did provide two points off the bench but the fact that Padraig Clancy and Michael John Tierney remained on the Laois bench throughout was certainly a surprise.
Dublin made their customary flying start and were four points ahead by the 11th minute. Culliton had already denied Connolly twice by that stage and Laois repaid him somewhat with points from Munnelly (two) and Carroll.
Bernard Brogan blasted just over in response before Connolly finally beat his nemesis in the 23rd minute, taking a pass from Alan Brogan before sliding a low shot beneath the advancing goalie.
Cluxton converted his second 45 and Bernard Brogan pointed a free before Padraig McMahon, operating as an extra defender, came forward for two points in injury time to leave Laois in touch at the break, trailing by 1-7 to 0-5.
Colm Begley, Carroll and Munnelly all found the target within four minutes of the resumption to reduce the margin to two but Dublin put their foot on the gas ever so slightly in impressive fashion to quell the resistance.
Bernard Brogan, Cluxton, Connolly (two) and Alan Brogan (three) all raised white flags and with Carroll departing the fray with what looked a serious injury to his right angle, Laois looked done.
They kept plugging away despite that though, with Kavanagh doing his case for inclusion in the Qualifiers no harm.
But in a game that lacked any of the intensity or pace of the Kildare-Meath encounter, Dublin were doing just enough.
And that was more than enough.
S Cluxton 0-3(45s); Philip McMahon, Rory O’Carroll, M Fitzsimons; J McCarthy, G Brennan, K Nolan; MD Macauley, B Cahill; P Flynn, K McManamon, B Cullen 0-1; A Brogan 0-4, D Connolly 1-2, B Brogan 0-5(2fs). Subs: P Casey for Nolan blood (14-19); D Bastick for Cahill (44); E O’Gara for McManamon (48); T Quinn 0-1(f) for B Brogan (64); D Lally for Cullen (69)
E Culliton; C Healy, K Meaney, M Timmons; D Strong, S Julian, P O’Leary; C Begley 0-1, B Quigley; D Carroll 0-2, J O’Loughlin, N Donoher; R Munnelly 0-4(2fs), B Sheehan, P McMahon 0-2. Subs: D Kingston for Sheehan (ht); K Lillis for O’Loughlin (52); G Kavanagh 0-2 for Carroll inj (54); C Boyle for Timmons (62)
Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan)