I don’t think Laois supporters are different from any other set of supporters in the country, we were probably spoilt in our first three games and felt that the new management team had brought the Midas touch to our senior team.
Like all honeymoon periods, however, sometimes you have to get up on Monday and face the reality of life. Everything does not always turn out how you plan it.
I felt going into Saturday night’s clash with Tyrone that a victory was well within our reach, but for the first time this year we didn’t turn up in the first half, and were playing catch up for the rest of the game.
Conditions were poor, but that was not the reason we were beaten. Tyrone played some of the best football that has been seen around these parts in a long time. Their first half display was as good as it gets, and even die hard Laois supporters could do nothing but applaud their movement and their score taking, both in the first and second half.
We just couldn’t handle them, and were lucky to only be seven points down at half time. Their goal was a combination of great movement, good football and great bravery by Colm Cavanagh.
Darren Maher showed great bravery in the clash too, and was unlucky to see the ball finish up in the back of the net. He did everything right, he went with the ‘man, ball and all’ system which was good to see for a lad who started his first game at this level.
Other than that, however, it was a half that we will want forget. In the second half we did show a lot more bite and pushed Tyrone hard until the final whistle. We did get some nice scores and the moving of Kevin Meaney to midfield gave us that extra little bit of strength we needed in that area, and he also kicked a very fine score from out on the left wing.
MJ Tierney, as usual, was excellent on dead balls, pointing from a range of distances and angles. However, unlike Tyrone in the first half, we found it very hard to put moves together and open up the visitor’s defence.
We also found it almost impossible to find our inside line, and on many occasions when we did win frees around the half back line or in the midfield area, we found that there was no option in front of us because most of our forwards were behind the ball.
One thing that I did notice at half time was the response of both sets of supporters when their respective teams retook to the field; you could have heard a pin drop when Laois came out but Tyrone received a rousing welcome.
This is not criticism of our supporters but I felt that a lot of people were going to give it ten minutes and then stream out. If we are to be successful then we have to get supporters behind us and this means that our team has to be competitive from the throw in.
People are struggling out there and sometimes going to see your county play is a break from all the hardships you encounter on a day-to-day basis. You may not think it, but when your team is doing well you tend to forget other problems in life.
We knew that this was going to be a tough league campaign, and to be fair the lads have done well to date. With two games left we are in an ideal position. It is not unachievable, but we will have to learn from Saturday and push on. We have a good setup, and there was good Laois support there on Saturday night, but we need performances and results to keep this going.