By Pat Delaney
AFTER the excitement of last Sunday in Dublin this coming weekend Dublin will be visitors to Portlaoise for the All-Ireland preliminary quarter-final meeting of the two Leinster teams.
Dublin footballers are enjoying life in the fast lane and now the hurlers have joined them after a good league campaign that was ended by eventual champions Limerick.
In the new look championship Dublin travelled to Nowlan Park but suffered a narrow defeat. Since then it was all positive. They squeezed a draw against Wexford in Parnell Park, then beat Carlow.
They then ended Galway’s interest in the championship with a stunning display in Parnell Park that almost earned them a place in the Leinster final. However results from Wexford Park ruled that out but their manager Mattie Kenny was happy enough with his progress in his first campaign.
Last Sunday was the first time Laois hurlers played in Croke Park in 14 years and they looked as if they played there every week. They earned that 2005 trip to headquarters by defeating Dublin in Nowlan Park and that is the last time Laois overcame the capital’s hurlers in championship or league.
The final score then read Laois 4-14 Dublin 0-14. James Young scored 1-9, Damien Culleton 2-1 and Liam Tynan 1-1 while Joe Phelan (Portlaoise) was captain. They eventually lost to Wexford in Croke Park on a 0-24 to 1-10 scoreline.
Since then championship meetings have been one sided. In 2012, having struggled over Carlow with Willie Hyland accounting for 11 points, Laois travelled to O’Connor Park but ran in to a Dublin bus scoring 3-23. Laois only managed 1-7, the goal by Neil Foyle.
Three years later and another heavy defeat, Dublin 4-17 Laois 0-19. Our top three scorers were Zane Keenan, Willie Hyland and Cha Dwyer.
The most recent meeting in the All-Ireland qualifiers was in O’Moore Park with another comprehensive defeat for the home team.
Onto Parnell Park in 2017. On an awful day for Laois GAA the footballers were thrashed by Clare in O’Moore Park in the afternoon and a few hours later the hurlers, minus top players like Stephen Maher, Ross King and Cha Dwyer, ran out in Parnell Park. Despite all their problems only one point separated the teams.
However the second half was awful and danger man Eamon Dillon brought his tally to 2-4. Enda Rowland scored the Laois goal adding to an earlier point.
Dublin will be favourites naturally enough but after an impressive Joe McDonagh campaign this Laois team will be quietly confident. However, they know it is a big step up in class.
Can Laois produce the kind of mazy runs through the Dublin defence as they did last week in Croke Park and can their defence contain forwards of the calibre of David Treacy, Danny Sutcliffe, Liam Rushe, Eamon Dillon, Conal Keaney, Oisin O’Rourke?
It will be asking a lot particularly coming just six days after Croke Park but with a strong panel who knows what can happen. Dublin will have been well rested since the Saturday night in Parnell Park that ended the Galway championship year.
Adding to the Dublin ambitions is that the winners on Saturday will face the losing Munster finalists Tipperary and remembering how earlier this year Dublin travelled to Semple Stadium and knocked the Premier out of the league.