Dublin boss Tom Gray has played down the value of last year’s EirGrid Leinster final drubbing of Laois ahead of this evening’s rematch.
Dublin are hot favourites to come out on top at Netwatch Cullen Park (7.30pm, TG4) with Laois 4/1 underdogs. That’s partly down to Dublin’s double-digit winning margins against Wicklow, Longford, and Meath in previous rounds along with a 4-18 to 0-17 win over Laois in last July’s final.
Gray said the reality is that it’s a different Dublin team this term with prolific forward Ciarán Archer the only one involved again. As for Laois, 10 players who featured in the 2019 final were on duty again last month when they beat Kildare in the semi-finals.
“It’s a new Dublin team,” said Gray. “Last year has no bearing on this year. I think, if anything, it has more bearing from a Laois point of view because a lot of their players experienced the championship last year. We have five guys starting this year who haven’t played championship football at all before for Dublin. I have a lot of time for that Laois team. We obviously played them last year in the Leinster final, and 11 of them I think are eligible again this year.
“Mark Barry and Sean O’Flynn are top-class footballers. I’m under no illusions it’s going to be a battle against them. We played them in the developmental league and, while both teams were experimenting to a certain extent, their work rate and their spirit and determination — if you were involved with that team you’d be very, very proud of them.”
It leaves reigning U20 Player of the Year Archer as the undisputed talisman in Dublin’s team. The St Maur’s sharpshooter hit 10-35 in last year’s five-game campaign, landing 3-8 against Laois in the provincial final. He’s returned more modest tallies of 0-4, 1-4, and 0-2 this year.
LAOIS: M Byron; M Dowling, A Mohan, N Keane; S O’Flynn, G Saunders, J Lacey; B Howlin, PJ Daly; R Coffey, J Owens, D Larkin; C Slevin, D Galvin, M Barry.