After a miserable couple of months for GAA supporters in the county, they were finally given cause to cheer on Saturday afternoon thanks to a two point victory over Westmeath in Munllingar.
Laois minor hurling manager Seamas Plunkett was clearly delighted as his side celebrated their victory on the field at Cusack Park, and his two years of intensive coaching were obviously bearing fruit after a terrific victory.
“It was the manner of the victory that most pleased me. We fought tooth and nail for that victory. That win was very important. It showed the spirit in the team, the camaraderie in the team. They worked really, really hard when the chips were down. I really am delighted for the lads. They are the most united bunch of players I’ve ever seen in a Laois dressing room. They are a bunch of players who want to play with Laois and that’s very important.”
It was the quality of the game, and the spirit shown by his charges, that also gave the manager much satisfaction. “It was a very, very tight game, two ferociously competitive teams. When we look at the stats after this game the amount of blocks and hooks, they will be very high for both sides.
“It was one of those games where the result had to be dug out. Some games run and flow, really classic hurling, but other games are tight and every ball has to be fought for, that’s what we saw today from both sides but we had some real quality scores as well.”
A year ago Laois lost the corresponding encounter to Westmeath, and the manager learned his lessons from then. “We trained very hard last year but faded in the last ten minutes. This year it was the other way around. The last ten minutes we fought tooth and nail. We said coming out of the dressing room that we were going to fight like dogs for every ball, and that’s what we did.
“I think there’s a bright future for us. I know we have to play Kilkenny next but I guarantee you we will be up for that as well. We have shown steady improvement and that is what I want to see. Look, I know there is still a lot of work to be done but this is just the first round.”
Cheddar had special words of praise for the large number of supporters who traveled and certainly made their presence felt throughout the game, but particularly in the closing minutes when most needed. “The supporters today made a huge contribution. I want to compliment them. It’s a long, long time since I saw Laois people outnumber the opposition on their own ground. You could really hear them down on the sideline and on the pitch and that really drives on the players”
It is now on to face the might of Kilkenny, in O’Moore Park, in two weeks time. “We will take much confidence from this game going forward. We know we face a huge task and that we have much work to do, but we are where we want to be and we will give it everything we have.”