Dublin seize the day with Leinster win

LEINSTER SFC FINAL:

Dublin 3-14 Laois 1-14, Croke Park

Two goals in the space of a minute helped turn this afternoon's Leinster SFC final in Dublin's favour as Paul Caffrey's side collected their third provincial title in a row at Croke Park.

Mark Vaughan (28 minutes) and Bernard Brogan (29) both found the Laois net in a dazzling spell just before the interval.

Watched by 81,394 spectators, the Dubs took a 2-7 to 1-7 lead into the second half and a 41st-minute goal from Bernard Brogan put the result in little doubt.

Laois did have their own goal chances  Brian McCormack blasted over from close range, a Padraig McMahon effort cannoned off the crossbar and Colm Parkinson was also denied by Stephen Cluxton  but Dublin's grip on the Delaney Cup was a decidedly firm one.

It was 47th Leinster title in all for Dublin and a richly-deserved success as they made their goals count. A plus point for Caffrey was his side's ability to once again put on telling spurts of scoring when it most mattered.

Coming up to half-time, Laois had moved 1-6 to 0-7 ahead but that two-goal blast from Vaughan and Brogan came at just the right time for the Metropolitans.

Vaughan was in inspired form from frees - the Kilmacud Crokes clubman finished with a personal tally as 1-6 as he continued his encouraging championship form.

Vaughan's one and only point from play arrived in the 42nd-minute, it put Dublin 3-11 to 1-9 ahead and there was little hope for Laois thereafter, despite the game losing all shape.

Liam Kearns' challengers were forced into a change before the throw-in as Chris Conway's hand injury saw him replaced by Brian 'Beano' McDonald.

As expected, Laois swapped Darren Rooney and Tom Kelly around in the spine of their defence and the midlanders' satisfying start was topped off by a seventh-minute goal from Ross Munnelly.

Vaughan opened the scoring with a crisp second-minute free and while the Dubs struggled to score in open play - they pointed only twice from play in the opening 35 minutes - free-takers Vaughan and Conal Keaney showed their accuracy throughout.

Colm Parkinson, arguably Laois' best forward on the day, fisted over in response to Vaughan's opener and Keaney (free) and Peter O'Leary then traded scores.

Then came Munnelly's goal as poor marking from Ross McConnell allowed McDonald to be picked out from a free. He had his shot blocked by Dublin 'keeper Cluxton, but Munnelly hared onto the loose ball to slide it home for a 1-2 to 0-2 Laois lead.

The goalscorer tagged on a point and Laois' composed start continued as impressive young free-taker Michael Tierney replied to Keaney's second point.

However, the Dubs soon began to physically impose themselves, win some easy frees for Vaughan and they ended the half with a 62% share of possession as the final turned in their favour.

They missed out on an 18th-minute goal when Keaney failed to spot an unmarked Jason Sherlock but three frees on the trot from Vaughan made it a one-point game at 1-4 to 0-6.

Tierney (free) and Bernard Brogan, who was scoring his first point of the championship, exchanged points before Parkinson extended Laois' lead back to two.

Then came the crucial goals as Laois net minder Fergal Byron's run of seven championship clean sheets came to an emphatic end.

There was a touch of good fortune about the first as Bryan Cullen looked guilty of over-carrying before Vaughan gobbled up possession and steered the ball to the net from eight yards out.

Just moments later, Dublin went 2-7 to 1-6 ahead when Brogan was sprung clear by a sublime Sherlock pass and the young Oliver Plunketts/Eoghan Ruadh star crept a lovely right-footed shot past the dive of Byron and the Dubs were in dreamland.

Laois' sole reply before the half-time whistle was a Tierney free and when Ciaran Whelan got a lucky break of the ball to ram over the opening point of the second half, it was evident it was not going to be Laois' day.

Parkinson quickly replied and wing back McCormack was really in the wrong place at the right time when he fired a real goal-scoring chance over the bar. Had Munnelly, Tierney or Parkinson been the player in possession, a green flag was likely.

Taking their cue, Dublin roared up the other end, Keaney brilliantly fielded a high ball and he picked out Alan Brogan who slipped the ball past the advancing Byron for a 3-9 to 1-9 scoreline.

As the decibel level increased, Brogan fired over his first point of the match. Vaughan, in acres of space, scored soon after from play and Caffrey's men were pulling away.

Incredibly, the champions went a full 17 minutes without a score as Laois tried valiantly to find a way back into the game. Tierney was as reliable as ever from frees but with McMahon hitting the bar and Cluxton keeping out Parkinson's shot, the Dubs remained out of reach.

With the quality dipping and game petering out, the sides split the final six points - Tierney (0-2) and Billy Sheehan replied to scores from Whelan, Mossie Quinn and Ger Brennan - as Dublin confidently continued their recent dominance of Leinster.

DUBLIN: S Cluxton; D Henry, R McConnell, P Griffin; P Casey, B Cullen, B Cahill; C Whelan (0-2), S Ryan; C Moran (capt), A Brogan (1-1), B Brogan (1-1); J Sherlock, C Keaney (0-2, 0-1f), M Vaughan (1-6, 0-5f).

Subs used: T Quinn (0-1) for Sherlock (63 mins), K Bonner for Vaughan (66), G Brennan (0-1) for Casey (69), J Magee for Whelan (70+1)

LAOIS: F Byron; C Ryan, T Kelly, J Higgins; P McMahon, D Rooney, B McCormack (0-1); P Clancy (capt), B Quigley; P OLeary (0-1), B McDonald, C Parkinson (0-3); M Tierney (0-7, 0-6f, 1 45), P Lawlor, R Munnelly (1-1).

Subs used: B Sheehan for McDonald (50 mins), K Fitzpatrick for Lawlor (65)

Referee: Michael Hughes (Tyrone)

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