Reigning Leinster U20 football champions Dublin recovered from a poor start to take control of this provincial final at Netwatch Cullen Park to repeat last year’s victory over the O’Moore County at the same stage.
Laois started in great style, hitting the game’s first three points from frees — a brace from team captain Ronan Coffey, supplemented by a superb strike from long range by goalie Matthew Byron.
It took Dublin left-half-back Leo Gannon to show the way for his side as he kicked two points out of open play before Ciarán Archer, the only survivor from Dublin’s team of 2019, levelled from play.
Byron edged Laois ahead with another fine pointed free, but Dublin were now in full flow. They were dominating midfield where Killian McGinnis and Evan Caulfield were in control, providing a superb
supply of ball to an alert forward line in which full-forward Luke Swan was a formidable force.
With Archer deadly accurate from frees and 45s, Swan causing major problems, and half-forward Mark Lavin and Lorcan O’Dell particularly impressive, Dublin hit seven unanswered points to sail into a 0-10 to 0-4 lead on 26 minutes before Ronan Coffey had the first Laois point from play.
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Archer finished the half with expert conversion of his second 45 as Dublin led by 0-11 to 0-5 at the break.
Dublin maintained their grip in the second half, outscoring their opponents 0-7 to 0-3, the power and pace of Dublin proving too much for a Laois side which just came up against better opposition on the night.
Both Laois midfielders had been withdrawn by the 43rd minute, indicative of Dublin’s midfield superiority, where Evan Caulfield had a fine game.
Laois looked to have gained a possible late foothold when Mark Barry was hauled down in the large square on 56 minutes with the score on 0-15 to 0-8, but Barry blazed the spot-kick wide.
Dublin closed out the game with some ease and retained their title, albeit by a closer margin than last year when they defeated Laois by a scoreline of 4-18 to 0-17.
Dublin left-full-forward Kieran McKeon enjoyed the honour of being Dublin’s second-highest scorer on the night with four splendid second-half points out of play, while centre-forward Lorcan O’Dell was named Man of the Match. Right-full-forward Archer top-scored with 0-6.
Laois captain Ronan Coffey had a fine game, but Laois lacked scoring forwards — Coffey and centre-forward Jack Owens scored 0-1 each from play — their other scores coming from placed balls.
Scorers for Dublin: C Archer 0-6, 0-2 frees, 0-2 45s, K McKeon 0-4, L Gannon 0-2, M Lavin, L O’Dell, S Foran, R Dwyer, K McGinnis, C Kinsella 0-1 each.
Scorers for Laois: D Coffey 0-4, 0-3 frees, M Byron 0-3, 0-2 frees, 0-1 45, J Owens 0-1.
Dublin: J O’Neill; A Murphy, A Rafter, J Bannon; R Dwyer, A Waddick, Lee Gannon; K McGinnis, E Caulfield; M Lavin, L O Dell, S Foran; C Archer, L Swan, K McKeon.
Subs: A Fearon for McGinnis (40); P Purcell for Foran (44); C Kinsella for J Bannon (46); S Braiden O’Byrne for O Dell (54); C Tyrell for Murphy (61).
Laois: M Byron; M Dowling, A Mohan, N Keane; S O’Flynn, G Saunders, J Lacey; B Howlin, P J Daly; R Coffey, J Owens, D Larkin; C Slevin, D Galvin, M Barry.
Subs: D Brophy for Howlin (26); S O’Neill for Daly (42); J Lacey for Galvin (51); S M Corcoran for O’Flynn (54).
Referee: P Maguire (Longford).