Home Features Championship Deep-Dive: Dublin Prove No Match For Laois Work Rate

Championship Deep-Dive: Dublin Prove No Match For Laois Work Rate

It was a day for numbers in Laois as they beat Dublin for the first time in 14 years to qualify for their first All Ireland quarter-final since 1979

Dublin were the strong favourites heading into the clash following their win over Galway in their final game of the Leinster round-robin series.

However, it was the Joe McDonagh champions who set the tone from the off and at no point during the game did Mattie Kenny’s side lead.

Despite 11 wides, it was a dominant display by Laois as they out-muscled and out-fought their provincial rivals.

In this week’s Championship Deep-Dive, we take a closer look at how Laois’ work rate and tenacity was ultimately the difference in their 1-22 to 0-23 win.

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The first point of the day came directly from Alan Nolan’s puckout and that was an area that Laois targeted throughout the game to great effect. 

Nolan’s puckout landed directly on top of Cha Dwyer who was stationed at midfield for the majority of the game while John Lennon dropped back into the sweeper role. Tom Connolly was standing well off his marker and so Dwyer fielded the ball uncontested.

Credit: RTE

The Ballinakill man easily shrugged off the challenge of Connolly and while he had plenty of support players running off his shoulder in the crowded midfield, he hit the ball off the left side of his hurley without even a glance at the target.

Early warning signs for the Dubs. 

Credit: RTE

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Aaron Dunphy may have got the final touch to the back of the Dublin net but it was the other Dunphy, Willie, who deserves the credit for his tenacity in keeping the ball in play. 

The move began all the way back in the Laois full-back line where Oisin O’Rorke was dispossessed by Lennon and Lee Cleere. Lennon rounded his man before sending a handpass over the head of O’Rorke to his awaiting corner-back.

Credit: RTE

Cleere’s delivery initially seemed overcooked and so Paddy Smyth and Seán Moran ran back with the intention of shadowing the ball out over the end line. 

However, the tenacious Dunphy had other plans and quickly sprinted from his position in front of the square and beat Moran to the ball before batting it back into space. 

Credit: RTE

Out near the sideline, there was still much work to do, but again, Dunphy’s pace was no match for Moran and he rounded James Madden before shooting at the target. 

Nolan does well to block the initial shot but unbeknownst to Darragh O’Connell who attempted to control the ball, Aaron Dunphy had arrived in the square and easily knocked the ball in past the Dublin defender. 

Credit: RTE

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A groan of despair swept through O’Moore Park when Oisin O’Rorke tapped over the equalising score from yet another easy free in the 54th minute.

Yet, Laois had no intention in letting the Dubs go in front for the first time in the game. 

Enda Rowland’s resulting puckout flew over the heads of Éanna Lyons and Chris Crummey and Sean Moran attempted to play the ball on the ground. However, his missed it and Cha Dwyer managed to rise it despite the attentions of Crummey, Moran and Shane Barrett. 

Credit: RTE

Lyons stepped in to block the path of Crummey, allowing his teammate some space. Another Dublin defender joined the hunt to block down Dwyer which only resulted in Willie Dunphy being left unmarked. 

He received the simple handpass from Dwyer before sending it flying over the bar from the sideline. 

Credit: RTE

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Laois may have only outscored Dublin by seven points to five in the closing 15 minutes of the game but it was their work off the ball that proved they were, by far, the hungrier and more determined team. 

Seconds after Willie Dunphy’s point, the goalscorer Aaron Dunphy popped up with another key score after good build-up play by the team. 

Paddy Purcell won the puckout uncontested in the middle of the field and rounded Cian Boland before running into difficulty. Once again, their support play was crucial and Mark Kavanagh was the receiver on this occasion, despite seven Dublin defenders crowding the area. 

Credit: RTE

Instead of shooting at the target when a block down was possible, Kavanagh sent a precise ball to Aaron Dunphy who was entirely unmarked and he sent the ball over the bar. Less than three minutes after O’Rorke had levelled the game, Laois found themselves with a three-point advantage once again. 

Credit: RTE

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About Marisa Kennedy

Marisa is a Digital Journalist with Pundit Arena. She is a former reporter with Sporting Limerick and is a huge fan of the GAA. You can contact her at marisa@punditarena.com or on Twitter