Leinster U-21 HC: Dublin too good for Laois
Bórd Gáis Energy Leinster U-21 Hurling Championship first round
DUBLIN 4-16 LAOIS 1-10
By Kevin Egan at O’Moore Park
Laois were more than a match for Dublin for two thirds of this afternoon’s Bórd Gáis Energy Leinster U21 hurling championship clash at O’Moore Park, but they never looked like undoing the damage done in the first twenty minutes when Paul O’Brien’s Dubs were in scintillating form, moving the ball at pace and picking off clinical scores from all angles as they built up a 2-7 to 0-1 lead.
The home side were handed a lifeline when Jake Cranny fired in a close range goal and they pulled the deficit back to seven points by the 40th minute, but Dublin were never under any real pressure and Seán Currie’s third goal of the tie late in the game eliminated any doubt about the result, with the fourth Dublin goal arriving as a result of a mix-up between Stephen Kelly and Frank Flanagan.
While Seán Currie’s hat-trick and four points from his brother Colin will be the first thing to catch the eye of Dublin hurling supporters, it was the team’s control of the game in the middle third that was their real trump card in this tie.
Johnny McGuirk fired over a stunning point from range in the early exchanges, Conor Burke and Eoghan Conroy made a number of excellent high catches and perhaps the most influential player on the field was centre forward Lee Gannon, who created some superb openings with his deceptively fast running style and the ease with which he glided through the half back line to create overlaps.
Seán Currie’s first goal was squeezed in from a tight angle after less than two minutes, but the second was all down to Gannon’s incisive run through the middle of the defence, while points from Ciarán Dowling and a number of placed ball opportunities also came Dublin’s way as a result of Gannon’s work.
Seán Downey, Jake Cranny (a goal) and Ciarán Comerford were all on the scoresheet as Laois cut the gap to eight points, 2-9 to 1-4, by half time.
Senior star Lee Cleere was fighting fires all across the full back line and he continued to plug gaps on into the second half, most notably denying Fergal Whitely a goal with a stunning hook. The sides traded scores throughout the third quarter and the home supporters started to get into the game as Mark Kavanagh, Comerford and Brian Corby all pointed from play, but even though Dublin weren’t pushing clear, that was largely due to inaccuracy.
Ten wides were accumulated by the Dubs in the second half alone as they kept Laois at arm’s length, up until the final five minutes when Currie’s third goal and then Flanagan’s misplaced handpass that went over his own goal-line put much more distance between the sides.
Scorers for Dublin: Seán Currie 3-2, Colin Currie (0-2f, 0-1 ’65) & Ciarán Dowling (0-1f) 0-4 each, Frank Flanagan 1-0 OG, Johnny McGuirk, Lee Gannon, Fergal Whitely, Cillian Costello, Conor Ryan & Conor Burke 0-1 each.
Scorers for Laois: Ciarán Comerford 0-7 (0-5f), Jake Cranny 1-0, Seán Downey, Mark Kavanagh & Brian Corby 0-1 each.
DUBLIN: Dara Perry; Donnacha Ryan, Patrick Smyth, Cian Hendricken; Eoghan Conroy, Conor Burke, Daire Gray; Fergal Whitely, Johnny McGuirk; Ciarán Dowling, Lee Gannon, Pól Crummey; Seán Currie, Ronan Hayes, Colin Currie. Subs: Conor Ryan for Whitely (45), Cillian Costello for McGuirk (45), Cian O’Sullivan for Hayes (52), David Keogh for Gannon (59), Aidan Mellett for Colin Currie (59).
LAOIS: *Stephen Kelly; Fiachra Fennell, Frank Flanagan, Lee Cleere; Jake Creagh, Eric Killeen, Padraig Delaney; Jake Cranny, Brian Corby; Ciarán Comerford, Eanna Lyons, Sean Downey; Patrick McKane, Mark Dowling, Mark Kavanagh. *Subs: Stephen Dunphy for Dowling (45), Conor Phelan for Cranny (48), Aaron Bergin for Corby (54), Jordan Walsh for McKane (54), Liam Senior for Downey (58).
Ref: Peter Burke (Kilkenny)