Laois 'the best we've played this year', says victorious Dubs boss Gilroy

Dublin 1-12 Laois 0-12

Dublin 1-12 Laois 0-12

Dublin manager Pat Gilroy paid tribute to courageous Laois as “the best team we have played this year” after his All-Ireland champions scraped home with just three points to spare in a ferociously contested quarter-final at Croke Park.

The Dubs made it through to face Mayo, but they were less than impressive, particularly in their finishing.

A fortuitous first half goal from Michael Darragh Macauley in the first half was what separated the teams at the end, as courageous Laois made a heroic exit from the championship series.

Paul Flynn got the Dubs going with an early point, but it quickly became clear that they had a battle on their hands against a Laois side that tackled ferociously and chased tirelessly.

The O’Moore men drew level with a converted free from Colm Kelly, before Ross Munnelly edged them ahead.

Bernard Brogan arrowed over a Dublin point, and the sides were level on five occasions in the opening 22minutes.

Brogan converted over a couple of frees, but Laois responded with scores from Gary Walsh and Colm Begley.

Goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton eased the Dubs champions back in front from a ’45 in the 24th minute, and they went three in front with a 27th minute Michael Darragh Macauley goal, which would not have counted but for a deflection, centre back John O’Loughlin getting a fateful hand to Macauley’s fisted effort.

But the Dublin full forward must take great credit for his part in the creationg, if biot the execution of the score, starting the move in his opwn half before linking with Eoghan O’Gara.

In the latter stages of the half, Laois adopted a long ball strategy which returned little in the way of success, with Kevin Nolan and Rory O’Carroll fetching ahead of target man Padraig Clancy.

Clancy did provide the knock-down for Gary Walsh’s second point in the stroke of half-time, with the Dubs taking a 1-6 to 0-7 lead into the interval.

Billy Sheehan dropped back as an extra defender, but Dublin stretched their lead with scores from Cluxton (free) and Flynn.

Skipper Kevin Meaney made a couple of important interventions at the back as the O’Moore men faced up to a Dublin onslaught, surviving without major damage.

And they narrowed the gap back to a single point with converted frees from Kelly, who thumped over a monster from 50 metres, and Munnelly.

Dublin, with Eamon Fennell doing the business at midfield and Nolan prompting from the back, were creating the chances, but O’Gara and Flynn blazed badly wide during another spell of dominance.

Brogan did his best to settle jangling nerves, sending another free sailing between the posts at the Canal End as the game slipped into its final 10 minutes, but Laois were far from finished.

Munnelly nailed his fifth point from a free, but they were forced to commit extra bodies to the defensive effort as the champions swept forward again.

Nolan got forward to kick over a point, making it a three-point game with five to play, and Laois had nothing left to give.

Dublin scorers: MD Macauley 1-0, B Brogan 0-4 (3f), S Cluxton 0-3 (1f, 2 ’45) P Flynn 0-2, E O’Gara, K Nolan, D Bastick 0-1 each.

Laois scorers: R Munnelly 0-6 (5f), C Kelly 0-3 (3f), G Walsh 0-2 C Begley 0-1.

Dublin: S Cluxton, M Fitzsimons, R O’Carroll, P McMahon, J McCarthy, K Nolan, C O’Sullivan, E Fennell, D Bastick, P Flynn, D Connolly, B Cullen, B Brogan, M D Macauley, E O’Gara.

Subs: C Kilkenny for Connolly, K McManamon for Bastick, G Brennan for McMahon, T Quinn for Brogan, J McCaffrey for O’Gara

Laois: E Culliton, C Healy, K Meaney, P O’Leary. D Strong, J O’Loughlin, C Boyle, B Quigley, C Begley, R Munnelly, G Walsh, D O’Connor, B Sheehan, P Clancy, C Kelly.

Subs: P McMahon for Walsh, MJ Tierney for O’Connor, P Cahillane for Kelly, K Lillis for Sheehan, S O’Leary for McMahon

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