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NHL Division 1B: Donal Burke inspires Dublin to victory over Laois

By Conor Martin

Dublin finally got their 2021 hurling league campaign up and running thanks to Donal Burke hitting an impressive 18 points for the dubs as they overcame Laois 0-30 to 1-19 in O'Moore Park.

Dublin lost against their old foes Kilkenny last week as GAA made a welcome return to the sporting calendar. Whilst Laois who of course famously knocked Dublin out of the 2019 hurling championship were looking for their first win of the season too after they were thrashed by Wexford last week in the curtain-raiser. 19 points was the difference between the two Leinster sides.

Mattie Kenny will be incredibly encouraged by his side who were in control for most of the game as they bounded back in style. The men from the capital were made to feel right at home by their hosts despite the hosts looking bright in the first stages of the game. It looked like Laois were going to take the game to Dublin when Paddy Purcell, Cha Dwyer, PJ Scully and Ciaran Collier raced Laois into an early 0-4 to 0-1 lead. But sadly for Laois the game had a similar feel to their October meeting with Dublin. This was to be the case as the Liffey-siders took advantage of the Laois mistakes and ultimately the quality of the Dubs was clear to see.

It will be fair to say Laois are sick of the sight of Burke as he ran rings round the Laois backline picking out the posts with ease.The north-sider who regularly shines for Na Fianna hit an incredible 0-18 and showed this expertise from the dead ball as he went on to nail 14 frees between the posts and as well as a '65.

When Dublin found their rhythm they were firing on all cylinders. Burke as mentioned was on form from frees and Whitehall Colmcille’s wing-back Daire Grey found himself trading his defensive duties for attack as both sides shared seven points each at the first water break.

Burke brought his first-half personal tally to nine points as Dublin brought a 0-13 to 0-11 lead in at half-time.

After the half-time break Sean Moran, Conor Burke and corner-back Andrew Dunphy pointed, and Dublin were 0-22 to 0-14 ahead with 20 minutes on the clock left with Laois looking like a side dead out on their feet and a team resigned to their fate.

However those who know their GAA know the game can change at any moment and Laois tails were raised when Dwyer scored a class goal which had it been the winner for Laois would be all over the social media platforms and a textbook example of how to finish.

But Dublin’s backline were strong and Dwyer and the Laois forwards couldn't close the gap to any less than three points.

The quality in front of the posts from a Laois perspective wasn’t good enough to put it bluntly. Dublin racked up a number of late scores to wrap up the win and at full-time it wouldn’t be surprising if the Laois management pointed out Burke’s precision,movement and skill to their forwards and are expecting them to take a leaf out of his book when they analyse Saturday’s game at training this week.

Laois are at home to Clare next weekend in a must win game. While Dublin will be looking to avoid a slip up against a strong Antrim who will leave it all out on the pitch against the Sky Blues after the men from Ulster went down fighting to hurling powerhouses Kilkenny on Sunday afternoon.

Scorers for Dublin: Donal Burke 0-18 (0-14 frees, 0-1 65), Conor Burke, Aaron Dunphy 0-2 each, Daire Gray, Davy Keogh, Eamon Dillon, Riain McBride, Fergal Whitely, Cian Boland, Paul Crummey, Sean Moran 0-1 each,

Scorers for Laois: PJ Scully 0-6 (all frees), Ross King 0-6 (0-4 frees), Cha Dwyer 1-3 (0-1 sideline cut), Paddy Purcell 0-2, Enda Rowland (free), Ciaran Collier 0-1 each.

LAOIS: Enda Rowland; Diarmuid Conway, Sean Downey, Donnchadh Hartnett; Padraig Delaney, Matthew Whelan, Jack Kelly; Fiachra C Fennell, Paddy Purcell; James Ryan, Cha Dwyer, Ciaran Collier; PJ Scully, Ross King, Aaron Dunphy. Subs: James Keyes for Dunphy (47), Eoin Gaughan for Scully (54), Ciaran Comerford for Ryan (54), Conor Stapleton for Fennell (66), Ciaran McEvoy for Delaney (66).

DUBLIN: Alan Nolan; Paddy Smyth, Eoghan O'Donnell, Andrew Dunphy; Sean Moran, Liam Rushe, Daire Gray; Conor Burke, James Madden; Danny Sutcliffe, Donal Burke, Chris Crummey; Ronan Hayes, Eamon Dillon, Cian Boland. Subs: Oisin O’Rorke for Boland (51); Davy Keogh for Dillon (51), Riain McBride for Madden (55), Fergal Whitely for Hayes (58), Jake Malone for Moran (66), John Hetherton for Sutcliffe (71), Paul Crummey for C Crummey (71)

Referee: Paud O’Dwyer (Carlow)

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