Dublin and Laois will meet in this Sunday’s Leinster Quarter-Final encounter with both teams hoping to put last year’s disappointing Leinster campaign behind them.
Meath overcame the Laois challenge at the Quarter -Final stage of last year’s championship before putting the Dublin men to the sword in a comprehensive Semi-Final victory.
The 48 time winners of the Delaney Cup Dublin will open their Leinster account in Croke Park this Sunday as they attempt to exercise the demons of this year’s National League final defeat to Cork. Laois have their own point to prove as they aim to silence critics following their narrow one point victory against Longford in the recent Leinster opening-round clash.
Prior to their shock exit in the 2010 Leinster championship Semi-Final, Dublin had cemented their position as the king pins of Leinster with five consecutive championship victories since 2005. While Laois have played in three Leinster title deciders since 2004, they failed to emerge victorious on each occasion, which included a 2007 final defeat to Dublin. Dublin also overcame the O’Moore men by one point in the 2005 decider, following the Laois side’s 2004 Leinster-Final defeat to Westmeath. The previous year, 2003, Laois had claimed the Delaney Cup with a goal to spare over Kildare, their first time to win the championship since 1946.
Manager Pat Gilroy has made three changes to the Dublin side that started the Allianz Football League final as they look to reassert their position as the dominant force in Leinster. Rory O’Carroll has been re-called to the starting fifteen for this Sunday’s clash after missing the entire League campaign. O’Carroll, who spent the spring teaching abroad has returned to the panel and will re-claim the full-back berth for the Croke Park clash. Paul Brogan is the unfortunate player to miss out in favour of O’Carroll’s return, while James Mc Carthy gets the nod at wing back and will line out alongside Ger Brennan and Kevin Nolan. Oliver Plunketts clubman, Alan Brogan, who missed out on the league final due to suspension, will return to the full-forward line alongside his brother Bernard and Diarmuid Connolly.
Laois manager Justin McNulty has kept faith with the side that narrowly overcame Longford in their preliminary-round clash two weeks ago, effectively ruling out a starting place for both Padraig Clancy and Donie Kingston. Mc Nulty will be hoping for a drastic improvement from his full-forward line that clocked up just four points between them against Longford and is aware of the challenge which Sunday’s encounter brings.
Speaking to the Evening Herald, the former Armagh All-Ireland winning fullback said: “They’re a team with huge talent. They’re hard working. They also have huge ability. They have ball players all over the park. That’s the reality – it’s not just me saying that. They’re serious All-Ireland contenders.” McNulty also praised the progress made by Gilroy since his appointment as Dublin manager, particularly in regard to his team selections and tactics. “He has changed the way Dublin play which was resisted from a number of quarters, I would imagine. He’s brought in new fresh talent. He’s been fair and honest in terms of selection policies.”
However, All-Star winner and Dublin forward Alan Brogan, has spoken of his team’s refusal to undermine the Laois challenge. Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Brogan said: “We played each other a number of times over the course of a few years and there was never more than a couple of points in it.”
Brogan also identified the appointment of McNulty, who enjoyed many tussles against Brogan and Dublin during his time in the Armagh defence, as a step in the right direction for Laois. “With Justin McNulty coming in, it’s reinvigorated them this year. He managed St. Brigid’s for a while so the guys know what he can bring to the table. From his playing days with Armagh as well, he went through a lot as a player so he’s been there and done it.”
The game will kick off in Croke Park at 4pm this Sunday and will follow this weekends other Leinster SFC Quarter-Final between Meath and Kildare, which takes place at 2pm.
Dublin SF v Laois: S Cluxton; P McMahon, R O’Carroll, M Fitzsimons; J McCarthy, G Brennan, K Nolan; M D MacAuley, B Cahill; P Flynn, K McManamon, B Cullen, A Brogan, D Connolly, B Brogan
Laois SF v Dublin: Eoin Culliton; Cahir Healy, Kevin Meaney, Mark Timmons; Darren Strong, Shane Julian, Peter O’Leary; Colm Begley, Brendan Quigley; Daithi Carroll, John O’Loughlin, Niall Donoher; Ross Munnelly, Billy Sheehan, Michael John Tierney