National League runners up Dublin proved too strong for their Leinster rivals Laois as they booked a championship semi-final date with Kildare. The 48 time winners of the Delaney cup ran out convincing winners against a poor Laois side in Croke Park this afternoon.
The boys in blue never looked particularly troubled despite an impressive spell from the O’Moore men at the opening of the second half as they momentarily reduced the deficit to just two points.
Following a sluggish start, the Dublin team raced to a four point lead and it was sixteen minutes before Laois registered their first score courtesy of a Ross Munnelly free. Munnelly reduced the gap again with another before a Diarmuid Connolly goal put paid to any hopes of a first half Laois comeback. The goal proved to be the turning point of the half, coming just as the momentum began to swing in favour of the Laois men.
The gap should have of been increased further when Bernard Brogan was denied a goal by Eoin Culleton, just one in a number of spectacular saves by the Laois net minder. Culleton’s opposite number Stephen Cluxton got his own name on the score sheet with the conversion of a 45. This was followed by another Bernard Brogan score, stretching the lead to seven points. However, two unanswered Padraig McMahon points in extra-time saw his Laois side enter the dressing room just five points behind at half time.
Early second half points from Colm Begley and the impressive Ross Munnelly as well as the addition of Donnie Kingston to the Laois full forward line gave the match a much needed injection of excitement.
However, the revival proved to be short lived and the Laois forwards, with the exception of the hard working Munnelly, struggled to get to grips with the strenght of the Dublin defence. A strong period of attacking play masterminded by the Brogan brothers and the excellent Diarmuid Connolly stretched the Dublin lead once more as Laois struggled to plug the gaps in their defence.
Poor ball retention from the Laois side saw Dublin begin to pull away in the later stages of the second half as Brogan brothers Alan and Bernard continued to add to the score board, while substitute Eoin O’Gara proved effective as he challenges for a semi-final starting position.
Despite an impressive league campaign which saw them promoted to the first division, the gulf in class was palpable as the strength and pace of the Dublin forward line overwhelmed the Laois opposition. Justin Mc Nulty and his Laois side will go back to the drawing board, while Dublin look ahead to their Leinster Semi-Final against Kildare hoping to be reassert their stronghold on the Leinster Championship and set the marker for a successful All-Ireland campaign
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