Senior Footballers lose out in Leinster SFC Final   28/06/2018

Dublin are Leinster football champions for a record eighth consecutive year after overcoming a nervous opening to surge past Laois, securing a Super 8s place in the process.

The three-in-a-row All-Ireland holders missed several early goal chances and booted nine first-half wides as Division 4 champions Laois kept pace for almost half an hour.

But they soon found their groove and outscored Laois by a whopping 0-22 to 0-5 from the 27th minute onwards to comfortably claim a 57th provincial title in front of 41,728 at Croke Park.

It's the first time any Leinster county has won eight Leinster championships on the trot and matches the record set by Kerry on a couple of occasions in Munster.

Ciaran Kilkenny maintained his strong form for Dublin and finished with 1-04 including an early goal while Dean Rock top scored with 0-08.

The big win was achieved without Stephen Cluxton who was initially named to start but was replaced in goals by Evan Comerford following his injury against Longford.

The veteran netminder will hope to be fit for their opening Super 8s game on July 14/15 though defender John Small will be suspended after a 57th minute dismissal.

Small was only on the pitch five minutes when he struck Laois' Evan O'Carroll and was shown a straight red card.

Bookmakers saddled Dublin with an 16-point handicap beforehand and as the opening quarter unfolded it looked like a decent bet.

In fact, Laois indicated in that opening period that they might even be seriously competitive and push Dublin hard over 70 minutes.

The holders did race into a 1-01 to no score lead thanks to a fourth minute Rock goal when he caught a high ball in from Eric Lowndes, spun clear of Finbarr Crowley and slammed home.

Laois's Donie Kingston wins the ball over the head of Dublin's Philly McMahon

But Laois' response was terrific as they reeled off four points in a row to tie up the game by the 17th minute.

Donie Kingston troubled Dublin with his power and aerial ability at Nowlan Park two years ago and profited again here, scoring three of those points.

The six-foot-five inch full-forward beat his marker Philly McMahon to a 50-50 high ball in from Colm Begley in the 15th minute before pointing.

It was a hint that Laois could trouble Dublin in the air but that threat didn't materialise.

In fact, Laois only scored once more in the half when Alan Farrell pointed in the 27th minute.

Even that score came with a sense of regret as Farrell was in on goal with a man over but chose to boot it over.

Dublin, meanwhile, were strangely errant in front of goal at the other end and blasted eight first-half wides while Con O'Callaghan missed two goal opportunities.

Paul Mannion also dragged a penalty attempt wide in the 20th minute after Niall Scully had been fouled.

Dublin's accuracy improved in the closing minutes of the half and they reeled off five points in a row including two from Rock to open up a 1-08 to 0-05 half-time lead.

Without playing close to their potential Dublin had an ominous six-point lead and stretched that gap after a strong third quarter display.

O'Callaghan had a cheeky lob tipped over for a point and Rock took his tally to 0-07 for the game when he converted a 45 after sub Jack McCaffrey went close with a goal chance.

That Rock score left Dublin 1-13 to 0-07 clear after 46 minutes and with their shots to scores ratio much improved they looked totally in control.

Laois needed goals but none arrived as Dublin continued to pick off points virtually at will.

O'Callaghan, Rock, Paddy Andrews, Kilkenny and Mannion were all on the mark while Cormac Costello came on and kicked four points from play in a strong cameo.

Gavin took the opportunity to run in his full allocation of subs as the result was certain long before full-time in what amounted to another painfully one-sided provincial game involved Dublin.

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Dublin: Evan Comerford; Eric Lowndes, Philly McMahon, Michael Fitzsimons; James McCarthy (0-01), Jonny Cooper, Brian  Howard (0-01); Brian Fenton (0-01), Michael Darragh Macauley; Niall Scully (0-01), Con O'Callaghan (0-02), Ciaran Kilkenny (1-04); Paul Mannion (0-01), Dean Rock (0-08, 0-05f, 0-01 45), Paddy Andrews (0-02).

Subs: Jack McCaffrey for Lowndes (h/t), Cormac Costello (0-04) for Andrews (46), John Small for Macauley (52), Paul Flynn for O'Callaghan (55), Darren Daly for Mannion (61), Conor McHugh for Rock (68).

Laois: Graham Brody; Darren Strong, Mark Timmons, Gareth Dillon; Finbarr Crowley, Colm Begley, Trevor Collins; John O'Loughlin, Kieran Lillis (0-01); Alan Farrell (0-02), Paul Kingston, Niall Donoher; Evan O'Carroll (0-01), Donie Kingston (0-04, 0-02f), Damien O'Connor.

Subs: Benny Carroll for Donoher (48), Ross Munnelly for Crowley (51), Eoghan Keogh for Brody (56), David Holland for Strong (58), Brian Glynn for Farrell (63), Gary Walsh (0-02) for Paul Kingston (67).

Referee: Barry Cassidy (Derry).








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