Leinster SHC Quarter-Final: Dublin too good for Laois
Leinster senior hurling championship quarter-final
DUBLIN 2-31 LAOIS 0-23
By Paul Keane at Croke Park
Rampant Dublin are through to the Leinster SHC semi-finals for the first time since 2016 after overcoming Laois at Croke Park, a sweet win that was inspired by the brilliance of Donal Burke.
Laois' two-point All-Ireland preliminary quarter-final win against Dublin was one of the surprises of the 2019 Championship though a repeat never looked to be on the cards here.
The 2013 Leinster champions led from Burke's first point in the second minute all the way until full-time with the Na Fianna man finishing with a whopping 1-16 to help secure their return to Croke Park next Saturday to face Kilkenny.
Eamon Dillon came on and sniped 1-1 too for a Dublin side that had 10 different scorers as the 2020 Championship began with a bang and 33 scores in total from the Sky Blues.
This was the first competitive game at GAA Headquarters since early March and the pitch was in pristine condition with the weather playing its part too.
Dublin thrived in the conditions and while Laois never threw in the towel and battled gamely despite falling nine points behind early in the second-half, it always looked like a win for Kenny's men.
Dublin's hurling was sharp and on point with a cool 1-16 racked up in the first-half alone. Rustiness after the long inter-county lay off certainly wasn't a problem.
Burke accounted for 1-9 of that first-half scoring surge as he ran hard at the Laois defence and dovetailed well with Davy Keogh and Ronan Hayes.
Dubs boss Kenny made a series of interesting calls, leaving ex-All-Star Liam Rushe on the bench alongside experienced performers like Dillon, Shane Barrett and Mark Shutte, all of whom would come on.
Chris Crummey, best known as a half-back and last year's captain, started in attack and hit two first-half points.
Riain McBride and debutant Conor Burke, both from the St Vincent's club, boomed over scores too as Dublin gradually increased their lead throughout the opening half.
They were four ahead at 0-12 to 0-8 in the 24th minute when Donal Burke struck for his goal.
It was a beauty too as he took off on a solo run down the centre of the Laois defence, leaving a couple of defenders in his wake before firing across goal to the 'keeper's left at the Hill 16 End.
Laois were boosted by the availability of Ross King following hamstring trouble and he scored six first-half points.
Laois went with a two-man full-forward line of King and Stephen Maher and deployed Sean Downey as a spare man in defence.
Mark Kavanagh was Laois' top scorer with 0-9 against Dublin in last year's Championship tie.
He couldn't start this time because of shoulder trouble but came on at half-time.
Dublin restarted with four points in a row, three from Burke and one from skipper Danny Sutcliffe, to move 1-20 to 0-12 ahead in the third quarter.
It was ominous for Laois though they refused to throw in the towel and upped the ante to pick off a series of scores which got the margin down to six points on a couple of occasions.
King and goalkeeper Enda Rowland consistently punished foul play by Dublin with points from frees though they never got a sniff of a goal which they badly needed.
Dublin finished strongest and benefited from the quality of the players they were able to introduce with Dillon and Schutte contributing 1-02 between them after coming on.
Dublin scorers: Donal Burke 1-16 (0-10f, 0-2 65), Eamon Dillon 1-1, Chris Crummey 0-3, Cian Boland 0-2, Danny Sutcliffe 0-2, Riain McBride 0-2, Conor Burke 0-2, Sean Moran 0-1, Davy Keogh 0-1, Mark Schutte 0-1.
Laois scorers: Ross King 0-10 (0-9f, 0-1 65), Stephen Maher 0-2, Aaron Dunphy 0-2, Paddy Purcell 0-2, Enda Rowland 0-2 (0-2f), Ryan Mullaney 0-1, James Ryan 0-1, Jack Kelly 0-1, Padraig Delaney 0-1, Fiachra C Fennell 0-1.
DUBLIN: Alan Nolan; Paddy Smyth, Eoghan O'Donnell, James Madden; Conor Burke, Daire Gray, Cian O'Callaghan; Sean Moran, Riain McBride; Cian Boland, Donal Burke, Danny Sutcliffe; Chris Crummey, Ronan Hayes, Davy Keogh. Subs: Eamon Dillon for Hayes (50), Liam Rushe for Crummey (56), Jake Malone for Gray (61), Mark Schutte for Boland (68), Shane Barrett for Moran (72).
LAOIS: Enda Rowland; Donnchadh Hartnett, Ronan Broderick, Lee Cleere; Sean Downey; Padraig Delaney, Ryan Mullaney, Fiachra C Fennell; Patrick Purcell, James Keyes; Aaron Dunphy, Willie Dunphy, James Ryan; Ross King, Stephen Maher. Subs: Jack Kelly for Cleere (33), Ciaran McEvoy for Broderick (35+3), Mark Kavanagh for Keyes (h/t), Conor Phelan for Mullaney (51), Eoin Gaughan for Maher (68). Referee: Paud O'Dwyer (Carlow).