Dublin reminded everyone why they are very much the team to beat with a comfortable win over Westmeath last weekend. The Champions led throughout as Dessie Farrell’s stint in the hot seat got off to a convincing start. Now, they come up against Laois. It’s been two years since Laois last featured in a Leinster final. But, that was their first appearance since 2007. After having to battle past Longford to get to this semi-final, all the odds are stacked against Mike Quirke’s team.
Laois were the slower to get going against Longford. In fact, they left it until the last 20 minutes before really getting themselves into the game. At that stage, Longford were five points up. If it wasn’t for two great saves by Niall Corbet in the Laois goal at the start of the second half, the game could have been over.
But, sensing they were on their last chance, Laois came roaring back. Seven consecutive points turned the tables and sent them through but the win was far from convincing.
There was a great spread of scorers for Laois with nine different contributors to their 1-16 tally. But, Corbet was their best player between the sticks. He will need to be at the ready again on Sunday to keep out the Dubs.
Much of the talk about Dublin going into the Championship was about how the team would transition into the post-Gavin era. Seamlessly is the apparent answer. Dublin never really left third gear. Although there are some ponderings about their lack of a goal, it’s almost as if they just decided they didn’t need one.
After going 0-4 to 0-0 up, the Dubs set the tone. From Cluxton’s precise kick-outs to Rock’s accuracy with the dead ball, the blue machine was purring. The likes of Seán Bugler and Robbie McDaid were able to get themselves on the scoresheet and claim their spot in the team.
But, it was the ever-reliable Ciarán Kilkenny who stood out. The Castleknock man dictated play from 11 and scored 5 points of his own. In addition to this, he was more than willing to help out at the other end of the pitch, popping up in defence on more than one occasion.
The only complaint Farrell can have is losing Eoin Murchan to an apparent injury. However, the Dubs in reserve are more than just second-stringers. Whatever team Farrell chooses should be too much to Laois to handle.
This semi-final is live on the RTÉ NEws Channel after Meath vs Kildare.
Dublin are a short 1/500. Meanwhile, Laois are 20/1 for an upset and a draw is 50/1.
Dublin : Stephen Cluxton; Michael Fitzsimons, Jonny Cooper, Eoin Murchan; James McCarthy, John Small, Robert McDaid; Brian Fenton, Tom Lahiff; Niall Scully, Ciaran Kilkenny, Sean Bugler; Paddy Small, Con O’Callaghan, Dean Rock
Leinster Championship Semi-Final: Dublin vs Laois, Sunday, 15th November, 15:30 (Croke Park).
5 biggest GAA shocks this century
— The GAA (@officialgaa) November 10, 2020