Despite his sides very impressive display at Fitzgerald Stadium, Laois manager Justin McNulty was far from happy with the result “No I certainly am not happy with that. The lads in there are absolutely gutted, devastated that they had a big opportunity to beat Kerry and they didn’t take it.
“It was not one that we could have won, but one that we should have won and the lads firmly believe that and I firmly believe that and the stats show that. Fourteen wides against their seven, three dropped into the goalies hands against their none and three more hit the post to their none, and they weren’t difficulty chances, they were easy chances.
“We didn’t punish them when we had the chances, we weren’t clinical enough in front of goal and had we been I have no doubt that we would have won the game. It is disappointing when you come down here and have the chance to beat Kerry and don’t take it. That is why I and the players are so disappointed”
Kerry on the other hand made economical use of their attacking options. “They are efficient and clinical but we hit some great scores as well, and in fact some of our scores were sublime, our goal was fantastic but this was against a Kerry team that has won All Irelands. You have to go at them and do it for 70 minutes and we didn’t do it for long enough periods in the end. The bottom line is we didn’t take our easy scoring chances and it is as simple as that”
Was it the best performance of the year? “Probably. We did outplay them for much of the game as again the stats show. We had 259 possessions as against their 209 and outplayed them for so long but we didn’t get the scores on the board, and we just have to learn to be more clinical”
His side were in arrears at the break when they should have been in front, but then came out and played great football for the third quarter to take the lead again. “We showed great battling characteristics and that never say never attitude. When Kerry went five points up we kept battling and even when we missed simple scores, we kept battling for more and it is a sure sign of a team with a great hunger.
“We are improving game by game and we will be ready for the final league game and then for the championship against Longford in May in Pearse Park that we know will be a massive challenge for us”
McNulty was also impressed with a couple of his newcomers. “Gary Walsh came in there today and had a fine game, and against a team like Kerry he looked sparkling at times, and Damien O’Connor is a huge talent and is going to be a real intercounty football star in the future”
Does the manager see real improvement in his side. “I am happy with where we are but you always have to strive to be better and get more from your players. If you think you are there you are finished. This team will never be allowed to slip and the pressure will always be there to improve and that is with every player.
“I think that we are in a better place than we were at this time last year. We have played against top high quality opposition and I think that we have improved as a team, but we have a long way to go and if we don’t beat Longford in May then we will not have shown real improvement”
It is now down to the final league game and the battle for survival against Down in Portlaoise. “This will be championship stuff as it is a knockout competition now. We will go and have a lash and see how we get on. We hopefully will have a full deck to choose from and the competition for places now is intense.
“This is what makes football so enjoyable.”