Laois manager Eamonn Kelly with Leigh Bergin after the game. Pic: Alf Harvey/HRPhoto.ie
Laois manager Eamonn Kelly paid tribute to the work rate of his players, after they came through an epic battle with Kerry on Saturday night.
With close to a 100 minutes of hurling played on the night, over 70 of which saw Laois have only fourteen men on the field, it took an extraordinary effort from his team to get over the line, and he was delighted with that work rate at the final whistle.
“It was an incredible game of hurling. There were parts of it where our work rate was very good, we fought hard and our commitment was great, but it was difficult that we had to bring it to extra time.
“I suppose if tonight showed one thing, we used maybe 22 or 23 players, and it showed the depth of the squad, we've a lot of guys out. It was good to see Picky back as well, but we're delighted to get a result.”
Kelly and his management team saw their pre-match plans thrown up in the air after just three minutes when Neil Foyle was shown a straight red card, with his marker escaping censure depsite Foyle leaving the field with blood streaming down his face. “I didn't see the incident” said Kelly afterwards “but I did see Neil's face.
“It takes two to tango, it looked a harsh enough call at the time but credit to the lads, they worked very hard when they were down to fourteen.
“There was nobody we took off tonight because they were playing badly, they worked themselves into the ground, and we can ask for no more in situations like that. It's good because these lads are working very, very hard.
“We've a lot of talking done in the last couple of weeks and it was time we put our words into action, and I think they did that to a certain extent.”
The win comes on the back of an impressive display down in Wexford the week before, and Kelly is happy to see his team improving. “We thought we fought well down in Wexford, and you're learning all the time about how to respond.
“We didn't respond down in Galway, we didn't respond against Limerick, we were very loose. There's great credit due to Kerry as well, they didn't come up here to roll over, they fought tooth and nail there today.
“We were down in Kerry earlier this year, we had a good lead built up and they never gave up and came back at us, and they did it time after time here tonight. It's great that we got something out if, I'm delighted for the lads.”