Leinster Senior Football Championship Semi-Final Dublin 2-23 (29) – 0-07 (7) Laois: Dublin destroy Laois by 22 points as they book 10th Leinster final in a row

By Conor Martin

A rampant Dublin booked their 10th Leinster final in a row after comfortably dispatching Laois 2-23 to 0-07 at Croke Park on Sunday afternoon to set up a clash next week with old rivals Meath who themselves beat Kildare.

Early on there was promising signs that Loais were going to follow Westmeath’s lead and give dublin a solid test when Laois’ Evan O’Carroll escaped his marker Michael Fitzsimons but his shot in the opening stages of the match cannoned of the woodwark and gave Dublin a wake up call early on.

Dublin at the other end had their chances to rattle the Laois net inside the first ten minutes of the match but Niall Corbet who had a stormer of a match against Longford last weekend kept out Brian Fenton and Niall Scully as the boys from the capital passed up excellent goal chances.

Chances to test Dublin and put them under pressure don’t come often as many counties have found out over the last few years and when the chance does arise then it must be taken otherwise this experienced Dublin side will make you pay.

Evan O’Carroll, Kieran Lillis and Laois keeper Corbet found this out the hard way as they missed great opportunities to add to their sides score as they tried to keep in touch with the reigning Leinster and All-Ireland champions.

In the first-half Laois would only score two points with both coming in the first 10 minutes. Firstly Gary Walsh got his side up and running while Paul Kingston his sides second point as The O’Moore County faltered in attack.

A few minutes later Dublin showed the importance of taking your chances and grabbed their first goal of the game when Sean Bugler and Fenton linked seamlessly and Bugler netted.

The goal was the green flag for Dublin to step up their game and Laois went into hiding and despite being underwhelming in front of the posts kicking six wides in the first 35 minutes alone. The Jacks were back in the dressing room at half-time eight points up with the 1-7 to 0-02 scoreline being very bleak reading for Laois.

Laois came out of the blocks fast in the second period when O’Carroll scored the first Laois point in 25 minutes from a free but that’s as good as it got really for Laois.

With Paddy Small subbed for Paul Mannion at the break which meant Ciarán Kilkenny who had produced a fine performance last week against Westmeath was able to take centre stage once more.

Kilkenny would go and get Dublin’s second goal producing a finish that would be more suited to Match of the Day rather than The Sunday Game when he instinctively latched onto Scully’s searching pass to volley home the ball into the bottom corner of the Laois net. 

Con O’Callaghan almost added a third goal to the Dublin tally with 20 minutes on the watch left. But Corbet did well to flick the ball over the bar as O’Callaghan settled for a point.

Not content with sitting back Dublin brought on Cormac Costello shortly before O’Callaghan’s goal chance and the forward would match the total tally scored by Laois despite being on the pitch for only 26 minutes. Costello would score 2 from frees and five points from open play as Dublin ravaged the Laois backline.

Dublin will have tougher tests this championship starting next week in the Leinster final against Meath. The Royals gave The Dubs a real battle when they met last month in the penultimate match of their league campaign and given Dublin’s dominance of Leinster in the last decade GAA fans probably Dublin themselves will be hoping for a real test on their quest for six All-Ireland titles in a row.

Dublin: Stephen Cluxton; Michael Fitzsimons, Jonny Cooper, Eoin Murchan; James McCarthy, John Small, Robert McDaid (0-01); Brian Fenton (0-04), Tom Lahiff; Niall Scully (0-03), Ciaran Kilkenny (1-04), Sean Bugler (1-00); Paddy Small (0-01), Con O’Callaghan (0-01), Dean Rock (0-02, 1f 1 45)

Subs: Paul Mannion for Paddy Small 35, David Byrne for Tom Lahiff 44, Cormac Costello (0-07, 3f, 1 45) for Dean Rock 47, Brian Howard for Sean Bugler 52, Philly McMahon for Eoin Murchan 64

Laois: Niall Corbet; Trevor Collins, Mark Timmons, Robert Pigott; Sean O’Flynn, Patrick O’Sullivan, Eoin Buggie; Daniel O’Reilly, John O’Loughlin; Gareth Dillon, Paul Kingston (0-2), Brian Byrne (0-1); Evan O’Carroll (0-1), Kieran Lillis, Gary Walsh (0-2)

Subs: Ross Munnelly (0-1) for Gary Walsh 46, Mark Barry for John O’Loughlin 46, Michael Keogh for Gareth Dillon 46, Alan Farrell for Eoin Buggie 49, Diarmuid Whelan for Brian Byrne 58

Referee: Ciaran Branagan (Down)

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