Laois manager Justin McNulty paid tribute to the efforts of his players in their bid to topple All-Ireland champions Dublin on Saturday, but revealed neither he nor the players were happy with their exploits in 2012.
The Armagh man’s first words to the assembled media after the game - “close, but no cigar” - were delivered with more than a tinge of regret. He clearly felt, as did the Laois supporters in Croke Park, that his side had a great chance to beat Dublin. While the eventually came up short, he spoke glowingly of the performance of his team. “Listen, it’s hugely disappointing for the team.
“They have given absolutely everything out there in terms of performance. The intensity was phenomenal. Maybe we deserved a little bit better than what we got out of the game but that’s football. Football is a cruel sport and we just have to keep our heads up and stay going.”
When asked if he felt Laois could be happy with their year overall, he brushed off any talk that either he or the players were pleased with home 2012 had gone. “I’m disappointed. I thought we could have done more. There’s nobody in that dressing room who’s in any way happy or content.
“I definitely think we could have done more. The guys showed that they’ve got true character and probably it’s a good platform for the team to go on and develop from beyond this point.”
The Laois manager was already turning his focus towards next year, and he knows his team will have to develop more of a cutting edge in attack if they are to take the next step forward. “We probably need to improve our attacking approach.
“We need to create more chances but that was probably more attributable to Dublin’s defensive system which they have got very well honed and is very much on par with what Donegal do.”
While his thoughts may already be slipping towards next year, when asked if he would be staying at the helm he said it was not his decision to make. “That’s something I’m not willing discuss.
“I’ll discuss it with my players first and then if the county board are looking for me to stay on, they’ll dictate that, not me.”
Over in the Dublin dressing room, manager Pat Gilroy admitted it had been the most difficult game his side had played this year. “They were the best opposition we’ve met so far. They were strong, well organised and we didn’t deal with it as well as we could have.