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Kenny happy after Dubs off mark

Dublin 4-18 Laois 1-17

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EYE ON THE BALL: Ronan Hayes of Dublin in action against Pádraig Delaney of Laois at Parnell Park. Pic: Sportsfile

EYE ON THE BALL: Ronan Hayes of Dublin in action against Pádraig Delaney of Laois at Parnell Park. Pic: Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

EYE ON THE BALL: Ronan Hayes of Dublin in action against Pádraig Delaney of Laois at Parnell Park. Pic: Sportsfile

Mattie Kenny seemed less offended by Dublin's performance in Nowlan Park eight days ago than most and similarly, he wasn't inclined to interpret yesterday's victory over Laois in Parnell Park as some sort of redemptive act.

Two points, Kenny acknowledged, were useful in prolonging their spring past the end of March and into the League play-offs.

And the avoidance of another defeat to Laois so soon after their Kilkenny misadventure served to sooth some of the shriekier analyses of his team.

But both results and both performances, Kenny insisted, had to be viewed through the prism of our proximity in the calendar.

"Look, we were a bit disappointed with our performance in Kilkenny the last day," he admitted.

"So we were looking for a better one today. And a higher work rate. And in fairness to the guys, they delivered that in spades today."

This was the essential improvement in Dublin's performance yesterday.

They weren't noticeably more polished than they had been a week previous in Nowlan Park yet their collective effort went up several notches.

True, they had been sloppy against Brian Cody's team and punished accordingly.

But Kenny referenced mitigating winter factors like fitness and fatigue.

And so long as his players were trying to do the right thing, he could excuse poor execution. For the time being at least.

So the shortfall in graft was what what had irked the Dublin manager.

Flattered

Against Kilkenny, Kenny reckoned Dublin had lost "70 to 80 per cent of all breaking ball", an issue they managed to rectify in the space of seven days.

The seven points they beat Laois by hardly flattered Dublin either.

Yesterday, on what Kenny observed was "a difficult day for hurling," they scored 4-18.

They also hit 17 wides and the four goals Dublin scored represented only a 50 per cent return from the number of viable chances they created to hit the net.

But for Enda Rowland - Laois's All Star nominee goalkeeper - Dublin could have had four goals in the first half alone, without counting Ronan Hayes's shot that came back off the cross bar on the stroke of half-time.

"Rowland is a top class 'keeper," Kenny praised.

"He made three really good saves. We needed one or two of them in the first half.

"It didn't come. But we spoke to the guys at half-time and we said we might have a bit more space to attack into in the second half playing into the breeze. And it turned out that way."

Still, the day wasn't without its collateral damage.

Eamonn Dillon was the first Dublin player to limp off in the 12th minute after scoring their only first-half goal, as part of an early blitz that saw Kenny's team into a 1-4 to 0-0 lead.

Mark Schutte followed him off after 31 minutes and both Cian O'Callaghan and Danny Sutcliffe went off in the second half also, each nursing hamstrings as they came off.

With several of his squad still wrapped up in DCU's bid to win a first Fitzgibbon Cup this week and a handful on the brink of returning from off-season operations, the two-week break in hurling League action could hardly be better timed for Kenny.

"I think it was a much better performance in the second half playing into the breeze," Kenny reckoned.

"But we showed really good character out there, we worked really hard. We were better around the breaking ball and we showed more desire and deserved all we got out of the game."

For Laois, it was a frustrating day and their clash with Carlow on February 22nd already seems as though it will decide which of the teams will be consigned to a relegation play-off.

Yesterday, they were at their best when packing their defence and counter-attacking, the method by which they chiselled Dublin's early lead into dust.

Yet the two goals Dublin scored within a minute soon after the restart forced Eddie Brennan's team to go more direct and in doing so, found Eoghan O'Donnell and Paddy Smyth in uncharitable mood.

Oisín O'Rorke scored the first of those goals after Rowland again saved from Ronan Hayes while the latter then almost immediately contributed a much more deliberate assist when he dragged three Laois tacklers across goal and played in Davy Keogh with a clever flick.

Hayes' ingenuity was rewarded in more tangible form when he scored Dublin's fourth goal - a classic 'route one' move - in the 51st minute, a score that effectively killed the game.

"That gave us a really good start after half time. That was the spell that put daylight between ourselves and the opposition," Kenny stated.

"Look, we were disappointed with our performance levels the last day. But the lads bounced back today. We have to start building on that now. It's a platform for us to work on."

SCORERS - Dublin: O O'Rorke 1-8 (7f, 1 '65), D Keogh 1-2, S Moran 0-3 (2f), E Dillon, R Hayes 1-0 each, D Burke, J Hetherton 0-2 each, R McBride 0-1. Laois: W Dunphy 2-1, R King 0-6 (5f), S Bergin, C McEvoy 0-2 each, E Rowland (f), J Kelly, P Purcell, J Ryan, E Gaughan, A Dunphy 0-1 each.

DUBLIN: S Brennan; P Smyth, E O'Donnell, C O'Callaghan; C Crummey, D Gray, J Madden; S Moran, J Malone; M Schutte, D Sutcliffe, D Burke; E Dillon, R Hayes, O O'Rorke. Subs: D Keogh for Dillon (12 inj), J Hetherton for Schutte (31 inj), F Whitely for Madden (47), A Dunphy for O'Callaghan (38 inj), R McBride for Sutcliffe (60 inj),

LAOIS: E Rowland; L Senior, P Delaney, D Hartnett; D Conway, R Mullaney, C McEvoy; J Kelly, F Fennell; R King, P Purcell, J Ryan; A Dunphy, W Dunphy, S Bergin. Subs: J Lennon for Mullaney (h-t), R Broderick for Senior (57), E Gaughan for A Dunphy (57), J Keyes for Purcell (61)

REF: D Hughes (Carlow)

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