DUBLIN 3-23 LAOIS 0-17
Dublin cruised to a 15-point victory over hosts Laois in O'Moore Park, Portlaoise on Sunday afternoon to fend off any relegation play-off fears and book their berth in the quarter-finals.
The Dubs will have home advantage for their NHL Division 1 quarter-final with Tipperary next weekend and will be buoyed by this display.
However, the game will come to soon for Liam Rushe who is currently sidelined through injury but it expected to return to full action in two weeks.
The winner of the Dublin v Tipp clash faces whoever emerges from Clare v Limerick in the semi-final while Offaly face Kilkenny and Wexford meet Galway in the other quarters.
“It’s great to play the games so close together. That’s been a positive. The players really enjoy that,” said Dublin manager Pat Gilroy afterwards.
“For us, I’d always look at the league that you want to be finishing with your best performances rather than starting with your best performances, and taking it into the championship.
“For us, we’ve seen certainly an improvement from the Limerick game and that’s important.
“It’s been a very competitive league, a very tough group stage.
“We’re after getting to see loads of players; we’re after learning a huge amount about them. Today was a real championship game, so it was good to come out the right side of it.”
Dublin newcomer Ronan Hayes enjoyed a memorable after when scoring 2-4 from play with both his goals coming in the last ten minutes while Donal Burke also had a fruitful day with a tally of 0-11 (four from play).
By the half-time interval Dublin were coasting to victory when holding a 1-15 to 0-6 lead.
The Dubs hit the opening five points of the match and may have had a goal but Paul Winters early effort, following a long ball from Donal Burke, was wide of the target.
Dublin's first goal arrived in the 19th minute when did well to release Ryan O'Dwyer who angled his drive to the corner of the net.
Dublin led by 14 points at one stage of the second half before Laois rallied temporarily to cut the deficit to nine but Dublin finish the game on a high with Kilmacud Crokes man Hayes grabbing two goals.
SCORERS - Dublin: D Burke 0-11 (0-6f, 0-1 '65'), R Hayes 2-4, R O'Dwyer 1-1, F Mac Gib 0-2, C Keaney, D Sutcliffe, J McCaffrey, P Ryan, C McBride 0-1 each. Laois: PJ Scully 0-6 (0-4f), C Dwyer, R King (0-2f) 0-3 each, N Foyle 0-2, E Rowland (0-1f), B Conroy, P Purcell 0-1 each.
DUBLIN: A Nolan; P Smyth, B O'Carroll, E O'Donnell; S Barrett, C Crummey, J McCaffrey; C Costello, F Mac Gib; D Burke, C Keaney, D Sutcliffe; R Hayes, R O'Dwyer, P Winters. Subs: J Madden for Barrett (inj 24), C O'Sullivan for O'Dwyer (48), P Ryan for Winters (58), R McBride for Keaney (63), C McBride for Costello (67).
LAOIS: E Rowland; L Cleere,L Bergin, J Phelan; P Lawlor, M Whelan, E Killeen; P Purcell, J Ryan; B Conroy, C Dwyer, W Dunphy; R King, N Foyle, M Kavanagh. Subs: C Stapleton for Cleere (21), PJ Scully for Kavanagh (34), C Taylor for Killeen (34), E Lyons for Purcell (70), C Phelan for J Phelan (70).
REF: P Murphy (Carlow).