Dublin defeat lively Laois in O'Byrne Cup final, despite John Small's controversial red card 4 months ago

Dublin defeat lively Laois in O'Byrne Cup final, despite John Small's controversial red card

Dublin 1-13 Laois 0-11

Many expected Dublin to steamroll Laois in comfortable fashion to win another O'Byrne Cup this year, but alas this was not the case.

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Laois played a fantastically entertaining brand of football, very direct with lots of kick passing, paying homage to the old saying that 'no one moves quicker than the ball.'

They were obviously given freedom of expression by manager Billy Sheehan, because although some of the attempted passes went amiss - particularly those skidding in from outside of the boot kicks - it didn't discourage them from their plan.

Evan O'Carroll was the focal point of their attack, and caused the Dublin defence a heap of problems by battling for every ball sent into him.

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The negative talking point of the game also involves O'Carroll, as he got into an off-the-ball tussle with John Small, which then effectively resulted in the Ballymun man receiving a straight red card.

Video replays on TG4 however, did show that it was the Laois forward who struck the first blow, with Small responding in fashion, knocking his opponent to the ground.

Down to 14 men and facing a dynamic Laois side full of confidence and courage, the game was level on several occasions.

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An early Sean Bulger goal proved vital for the Dubs, and a late flurry from Brian Fenton in particular allowed the boys in sky blue to stretch out more of a lead.

Still, late in the game with Laois determined to keep pinging the ball towards opposition goal and do everything in a hurry, there was always a threat that they could pull something off.

It was a breath of fresh air to watch, and a welcome change from the usual robotic defeats that Leinster teams have become accustomed to at the hands of the capital.

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This brand of football kept them competitive, and although tired legs, cold weather and a wet day, started to wear on them, and more and more kick passes went astray, Laois fans should be going home feeling positive about the season ahead.

We saw Portarlington use this type of game to great success in the Laois club championship, and they gave Kilmacud Crokes a mighty scare with it as well, so this might be something that we will hopefully see a lot more of from the O'Moore County.