After Diarmuid Connolly plundered Dublin’s second goal after just five minutes, 14-man Laois will perhaps be thankful that the deficit at the full-time whistle was just 11 points in the Leinster SFC quarter-final in Nowlan Park.
Bernard Brogan and Paul Mannion were held scoreless in attack – the former withdrawn with 20 minutes remaining – while Connolly missed a second half penalty, yet Dublin’s All-Ireland defence got off to a comfortable start in Kilkenny.
Mick Lillis’ side fell behind after just 11 seconds and it was fitting that it was centre-forward Dean Rock who raised the green flag.
The Ballymun Kickham’s forward took the Laois defence for 1-10 in a man-of-the-match performance, with deadly accuracy from placed ball matched by clever movement and composure which resulted in four additional points from play.
The 26-year-old admitted that the blistering start, where he found the net after slipping in behind Paul Cotter to slot past Graham Brody before Connolly added a second minutes later, was key to a successful evening’s work.
“Straight from the throw-in the ball just came in and the opportunity presented itself and it was in the net,” he told RTÉ Sport.
“From the first two attacks we got two goals.
“It was a great start for us...we’re a bit disappointed how we played in patches during the game, but a win is a win and it’s a good way to start the Championship.”
Rock admitted that the sweltering conditions at Nowlan Park meant there were “a lot of heavy legs at the end”, and acknowledged the first-half dismissal of John O’Loughlin may have inspired Laois’ revival after the break.
O’Loughlin was sent off when he retaliated after being held by Michael Darragh Macauley and after a 12-point interval deficit, the O’Moore men fought back gamely with goals from Paul Cahilane from the spot and Stephen Attride giving their fans something to cheer about.
“The atmosphere was brilliant...we’d certainly welcome lots more away games in the future"
“Sendings-off can work that way sometimes and teams can get a bit of a run on you and you take the foot off the pedal and it’s something we have to look at," Rock added when asked about the impact of the numerical advantage.
Next up for Jim Gavin’s side is a semi-final date with either Meath or Louth where they will return to the more familiar surroundings of Croke Park, though Rock admits he would prefer if away trip became more of a regular occurrence for the Dubs.
The majority of the 16,764 in attendance were backing the champions and two-time All-Ireland winner paid tribute to the travelling support
“The atmosphere was brilliant.
“We always love going on the road and I think the Dublin supporters love going on the road, so we’d certainly welcome lots more away games in the future.
“It was certainly an occasion we won’t forget for the rest of the year.”