WALSH CUP REACTION - Fennelly turns focus to league

A victory over his native county wasn't to be for Brendan Fennelly, but the Kilkenny man still had reason to be cheerful after Sunday's game as Laois now turn their attentions to their impending league opener with Westmeath.

A victory over his native county wasn't to be for Brendan Fennelly, but the Kilkenny man still had reason to be cheerful after Sunday's game as Laois now turn their attentions to their impending league opener with Westmeath.

Despite a battling performance, a strong Kilkenny side had too much for Laois on the day, and Fennelly admitted after the game that he thought his side deserved more for their efforts. "It was a very good workout, but the final scoreline wasn't a fair reflection of the game in fairness to Laois."

With Kilkenny striking for three goals, he also felt those scores were pivotal in firing the Cats to victory. "They (the goals) came from quick turnarounds, we missed chances at our end, probably due to a lack of sharpness, and they came down the field and scored. Richie Hogan was probably their only forward who did us serious damage though, I thought our backs contained their forwards fairly well."

Kilkenny came into the game with most of their championship team either on the field or on the bench, and nowhere were they stronger than in their half back line. The trio of Tommy Walsh, Jackie Tyrrell and JJ Delaney won't give away much no matter what the opposition, but Laois' inability to win primary possession on their own puckouts remains a worry.

While admitting the Kilkenny half-back line were intimidating opposition, Fennelly knows he will need more from his players when it comes to winning their own ball. "I suppose in fairness, you won't come across much better than Tommy Walsh, Jackie Tyrrell and JJ Delaney in the half back line, but overall we're not winning enough of our own puckouts in our half forward line.

"It's a slight lack of work rate in that area, but we're still feeling our way. Neil Foyle had his first run out for us there today and John Walsh is back on the panel there today as well. We have options going into the league."

As he looked ahead to his first league campaign in charge, Fennelly has already been keeping on eye on his first opponents, Westmeath. With just two weeks to go, he knows his side can't afford any slip ups. "I see they (Westmeath) played Carlow at the weekend and lost by three points, and they are going to be difficult games.

"You've got to go win them, but the reality of the league, with two teams qualifying is that we have to go and win all of our other matches, and if we do that and beat one of Limerick or Clare, we'll be in a league final, and that's the way I'm looking at it."

There is also renewed hope that Zane Keenan could re-join the panel, with Fennelly informing the assembled journalists that the Camross man has found temporary work in Ireland.