A win on his first league outing with Laois and an ideal start to the 2013 campaign - not a bad days work all around for Laois manager Seamas Plunkett.
The Portlaoise man was understandbly happy to have opened the season with a victory, but he was quick to remind both players and supporters alike that there is much more to be done if Laois are to book a return to Division 1B. “The win was a clear positive, I thought we battled and all worked hard for one another there and that’s what we’re trying to engender into the team here, that we just keep working.
“Some times things don’t go right for you, and if they don’t you just keep working and focus on the next ball.”
The win was particularly satisfying as it came against the backdrop of Laois’ late start to the season, and while Plunkett admitted that is something he has had to contend with, he wasn’t going to use it as an excuse for him or the players. “That’s true (we have started late), but we’re not going to use that as a crutch, we have been working hard and we came up here today and got the job done and we look forward now to Kerry in a fortnight at home.”
While Kerry’s win over Westmeath came as something of surprise to many, the Laois supremo showed his research skills when he confessed he had “heard good things, that Kerry were preparing hard, I know they are missing one of their players but they are putting in a lot of effort and they are getting good feedback from their sessions.”
As he looked ahead to that game, Plunkett was also clear on where he felt Laois needed to improve as the league progresses in the coming weeks. “We need to speed up our hurling a bit, and we need quicker delivery of the ball, but we knew coming up here it would be difficult.
“Kildare have hurlers that would get their place on any team. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy and it turned out like that.”
The team Plunkett put on the field was one of the strongest Laois have fielded for some time too, but he was reluctant to heap praise on players for answering the ball to play for the county. “This is senior intercounty hurling and I keep saying this, there should be no questions about responses.
“This is where the commitment level is at intercounty level , and I fairness the lads are doing that and there is definitely something to build on, and we’re going to work on that over the next couple of months.”
Cheddar also revealed he hopes to blood more young players later in the league, after giving Ben Conroy a chance to impress in the closing stages of the game. “You just need to look at times when you can play the players, and give them the right opportunities. Today we put in Ben when he had a back in front of him and it might not have been as easy for him, but that’s what we intend doing over the next couple of months, to look at the younger players in particular and give them a fair chance and bring them along with you.”