After watching his side open his tenure in charge with an impressive haul of 0-24, new Laois manager Brendan Fennelly couldn't help but be pleased with his side's performance after Sunday's Walsh Cup clash with UCD.
It was a topsy-turvy sort of game, as Laois lead by eight points at half time before UCD leveled the game on two separate occasions in the second half. Both times Laois showed impressive character to re-take the lead, and it was those battling qualities which Fennelly was most pleased with after the game. "What I was impressed with was the work rate and the effort and concentration of the lads.
"When we got ourselves in trouble twice in the second half we came back. When we conceded the second goal I thought we were in trouble, but the way we came back was what most impressed me on the day."
This game also offered him the chance of running the rule over some of the new players, and those who stepped in blended well with some of the more experienced players, another aspect of the game which pleased the Kilkenny man. "There was a lovely mix there today, there was a lot of lads making debuts and we were a little bit worried at the start of the game, but the likes of Sean (Bourke) and John Purcell and Brian Smith settled into the game, and they got great leadership from Brian Campion and Matthew Whelan, I thought Conor Dunne was excellent as well, and James Walsh, and obviously Willie Hyland in the forward line."
With Wexford next up this weekend, Fennelly is hopeful the players kick on from this victory and the next game as preparation for their league campaign. "They won the Shield last year so they might as well have a cut at the Walsh Cup this year. We want to get a strong panel together for the league, people are talking about only Limerick and Clare being strong contenders for Division 2, but there are plenty of other teams out there, and what we're aiming for is the middle of February, to hit the ground running and start picking up points straight away."
With talk of the league already dominating his thoughts, he admits there is no reason why a league final place shouldn't be in their sights. "I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be realistic. Laois are a hurling county and we have to be aiming for the Division 2 final, there's no reason why we shouldn't."