Peter Kelly unlikely to be back to bolster Blues defence
HE didn't come straight out and say it but neither did Ger Cunningham seem particularly optimistic that Peter Kelly would be back and available for Dublin's All-Ireland SHC qualifier next weekend.
The Lucan defender wasn't togged in Portlaoise on Saturday evening and with just a week between the two matches, it seems highly unlikely that the hamstring injury he suffered in the drawn Leinster SHC match with Galway will heal sufficiently to allow Kelly to partake fully in training and paint himself back in the selection picture.
"It's another week," Cunningham shrugged.
"He wasn't quite able to make the 26 tonight. So we'll see how he goes next week."
The good news that in his absence, Dublin's defence held up a sight better than they did in Tullamore four weeks previous.
In particular, Paul Schutte had a massive game, a swift and positive response the trauma of his afternoon in the company of Cathal Mannion in O'Connor Park in his last appearance in a Dublin jersey, aspects of which were reflected upon - and not in any complimentary light - on the subsequent Sunday Game highlights programme.
Cunningham admitted that Schutte - who had missed the build-up to that game with an ankle injury - shouldn't have played against Galway but was equally delighted with his performance on Saturday.
"I have huge confidence in Paul Schutte," Cunningham stressed.
"He's probably our best defender all year.
"I think the last day ... it's very difficult when you start a game and your man gets a goal on you in the first 60 seconds, you're on the back foot straight away.
"But he was just back from injury. We were missing Peter Kelly. It was a risk, in hindsight, that we shouldn't have taken. But we did.
"It just goes to show the strength of character for him to come out with a performance tonight."
Cian O'Callaghan started at full-back and with a near-lying Liam Rushe watching the skies around the recalled Gary Maguire's square, Dublin never really looked like conceding a goal.
"There were breakdown balls in the Dublin square in the second half but for whatever reason, we weren't able to get on the end of them to hang one," reflected Laois manager 'Cheddar' Plunkett.
"If we had got one of those, there would have been three points in it and with a fantastic crowd behind us again tonight, anything could have happened.
"The end game, particularly the late goal, put a different colour on it for us.
"There was a very strong breeze here, we probably weren't going to pull back six or seven points from play.
"We did need a goal but when the ball broke, we didn't have a player breaking on it," Plunkett concluded.