Lee Gannon, Dublin, and Mark Barry, during the O'Byrne Cup Final at Netwatch Cullen Park.
Lee Gannon, Dublin, and Mark Barry, during the O'Byrne Cup Final at Netwatch Cullen Park.

O'Byrne Cup Final: Dublin defeat determined Laois


O'Byrne Cup Final

DUBLIN 1-13 LAOIS 0-11

By Paul Keane at Netwatch Cullen Park

Sean Bugler's early goal paved the way for Dublin to go on and secure their 10th O'Byrne Cup football title success though they had to dig deep to shrug off a determined Laois.

Dublin played with 14 players for all of the second-half as John Small was dismissed late in the first-half though the Leinster champions produced their best form in the closing 20 minutes or so with depleted numbers.

The scores were tied with 47 minutes on the clock but Dublin reeled off 0-8 to Laois' 0-3 from there on to claim the pre-season title for the first time since 2017.

Ciaran Kilkenny captained Dublin and struck two points including an important insurance point late on while Brian Fenton, who also captained the Dubs in the competition, impressed too with two scores.

Harry Ladd, Ross McGarry and Aaron Byrne, all looking to break into the Dublin team on a regular basis, struck points too in the Netwatch Cullen Park win.

Dublin will return to action next Saturday at Croke Park against Armagh in Round 1 of the Allianz League while Billy Sheehan's Laois, who gave a strong account of themselves here and never gave in, will open their Division 3 campaign a day later in Louth.

Dublin went with a mixture of new and experienced again, starting with six players - David Byrne, Eoin Murchan, Small, Fenton, Kilkenny and Cormac Costello - that lined out against Mayo in last August's All-Ireland semi-final defeat.

In all, Farrell has handed game time to 40 different players throughout January with Robert Shaw, a late sub in Carlow, another debutant.

As for Laois manager Sheehan, he looked at 34 different players en route to the final with five starters - Trevor Collins, John O'Loughlin, Kieran Lillis, Eoin Lowry and the excellent Evan O'Carroll - retained from the team that lined out in last July's Leinster championship quarter-final defeat to Westmeath.

Dublin held a slender 1-5 to 0-6 lead at half-time but kicked themselves for a number of wasted opportunities. Cameron McCormack, a newcomer in midfielder from Ballymun, Costello and Aaron Byrne all came up short with point attempts while Ladd struck a post. Tom Lahiff also winced as a seventh minute shot at goal was expertly blocked by Laois goalkeeper Danny Bolger.

Dublin still took a commanding early lead with Bugler's fifth minute goal after being set free by Fenton helping them to lead by 1-01 to 0-00.

Laois responded with four points in a row between the eighth and 16th minutes to draw level at the water break.

Laois pressed up hard on Dublin goalkeeper Michael Shiel's kick-outs and got plenty of joy from the tactic, O'Carroll helping to win back possession high up the field in the 24th minute before pinching a point to leave the scores tied again at 1-3 to 0-6.

Dublin lost Small to a straight red card in the 31st minute. Small tangled with O'Carroll off the ball and following a consultation between referee Cormac Reilly and an umpire, the Meath official dismissed Small.

Reduced in numbers, Dublin were up against it but closed out the half with points from Costello and Ross McGarry to lead narrowly at the interval.

Laois tied it up again with points from O'Carroll andMark Barry in the third quarter but Dublin took over from there and drew on all their big game experience to push decisively clear. Fenton and Kilkenny were to the fore in this period while Byrne fisted a point and Lahiff wrapped up the scoring with Dubln's last score in stoppage time.

Scorers for Dublin: Sean Bugler 1-0, Cormac Costello 0-2 (0-1f), Ciaran Kilkenny 0-2, Ross McGarry 0-2, Brian Fenton 0-2, Aaron Byrne 0-2, Harry Ladd 0-1, Lee Gannon 0-1 (0-1m), Tom Lahiff 0-1.

Scorers for Laois: Mark Barry 0-4 (0-3f), Evan O'Carroll 0-3, S Moore 0-2 (0-2f), Danny Bolger 0-1 (0-1 45), Gary Walsh 0-1.

DUBLIN: Michael Shiel; Lee Gannon, David Byrne, Eoin Murchan; Tom Lahiff, John Small, Kieran Kennedy; Brian Fenton, Cameron McCormack; Ross McGarry, Ciaran Kilkenny, Sean Bugler; Cormac Costello, Harry Ladd, Aaron Byrne.

Subs: Niall Scully for Ladd h/t, Lorcan O'Dell for McCormack 52, Warren Egan for McGarry 58, Killian McGinnis for Costello 69, Robert Shaw for Byrne 72.

LAOIS: Danny Bolger; James Kelly, Trevor Collins, Alex Mohan; Sean O'Flynn, John O'Loughlin, Cathal Fennessy; Kieran Lillis, James Finn; Brian Byrne, Eoin Lowry, Cormac Murphy; Mark Barry, Evan O'Carroll, Sean Moore.

Subs: Gary Walsh for O'Carroll 32-34, blood, Daniel O'Reilly for Murphy 50, Dylan Kavanagh for O'Flynn 54, Walsh for Moore 57, Brian Daly for Finn 60, Cian Doyle for Fennessy 69, Podge Dunne for Lillis 69, Dylan Doyle for Byrne 70.

Referee: Cormac Reilly (Meath).