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Saturday 18 August 2018

Dubs will need to up game for Lilies

After beating Longford in the previous round, Justin McNulty suggested that his Laois team would be annihilated by Dublin if they didn't improve significantly. The truth is that their performance was only marginally better and they were easily beaten by a Dublin team that didn't really have to change out of third gear.

Laois were awful yesterday and at times failed to string any meaningful passages of play together. We know that Justin McNulty has placed a huge emphasis on a mainly defensive system and it was clear that very little work has been done up front.

Even with all the hours spent on the training field practising the defensive strategies, Laois were poor defensively and the Dublin forwards created a bagful of goal opportunities, particularly in the first half.

Laois can thank goalkeeper Eoin Culliton for keeping the score down as he made three outstanding saves from Diarmuid Connolly (twice) and Bernard Brogan in the opening 15 minutes and were it not for him this would have turned into annihilation.

Connolly did eventually manage to squeeze a shot under Culliton 10 minutes before the break, which opened up a five-point lead. Ironically that score came from a bad kick out which went straight to McManamon who gave the ball quickly to Alan Brogan and he in turn fed Connolly.

Further scores from Cluxton (45) and Bernard Brogan pushed the Dubs eight points in front and at that stage Laois were all over the place.

But Padraig McMahon kicked two outstanding points from play in injury time to keep the Laois supporters in their seats for the next 35 minutes.



ERRORS

That looked like a good decision as points from Begley, Carroll and Munnelly in the opening four minutes reduced the deficit to just a couple of points and Dublin supporters must have been thinking 'here we go again'. That was a close as Laois came as Dublin simply upped their work rate, kicking the next seven points to see off the Laois challenge.

This game never really got the pulse racing and the quality of play was very poor at times. Laois made so many basic errors, from hand passing away to kicking the ball over the side line, and all this when they were under very little pressure.

The hand passing in particular was below the standard you would expect at this level and they will need to look at this closely if they are to compete with the big boys in Division One next season. Their defensive system too needs to be tweaked considerably because the good teams will hurt them, as we saw yesterday.

For Dublin it was about winning the game and getting into a Leinster semi-final and they achieved that with something to spare. But a repeat performance would not be good enough to beat Kildare so there are aspects of their game that will need to improve in the next three weeks.

Certainly they cannot afford to waste as many good goal scoring chances and will also need to be better around the middle of the field. They know they will be coming up against a very organised team who are extremely fit and who work very hard for one another.

Kildare were full value for their win against Meath in the curtain raiser at Croke Park and despite the customary 18 wides or so they will be delighted to have got over this hurdle. McGeeney will know that another win would almost guarantee a provincial title so the next game is huge.

Against Meath they closed out the game very impressively and we know that they will play right to the end. Dublin will need to be on their guard and will need to find the fourth gear that they didn't require against Laois.

The decision from Seamus McEnaney to bring back Graham Geraghty nearly proved to be a masterstroke but a goal from the 38-year-old was ruled out with his team just four points behind.

On another day the goal would have stood and would have pushed Meath to victory but it wasn't to be and it is the scenic route for Geraghty and company.



WORRYING

On a separate note it was a very disappointing attendance yesterday and I suppose one could argue that the bank holiday weekend took numbers away, but the crowds are not going to any of the games in the same numbers and that must be worrying for the GAA.

On Saturday evening barely ten thousand made their way to the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick and that trend is set to continue until we get to the business end in August. A price correction might go some way to tempting more people back but also the format needs to looked at again.

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