LAOIS have had to wait a long time at minor level to get the better of Offaly.
When that losing run was eventually brought to and end last Saturday it was done so in fittingly dramatic fashion with Aaron Moore scoring the winning goal with the very last action of the game.
Offaly have had their fair share of late wins across the grades over the years, many at the expense of Laois, and manager Seamus Plunkett said after the game that it was about time the result went the other way.
“Myself and an awful lot of lads on the management team have been on the other end against Offaly a number of times. I certainly remember days against Offaly when we spilled scores against Offaly in the last couple of minutes and got turned over. We just kept at it all the way through and it just came right for us at the end but God almighty it was a terribly hard struggle.”
The win sees Laois through to the Leinster semi-final in June and while the manager believes there is still work to be done, he was very happy with how his side performed when the chips were down.
“We still have an awful lot of work to do to improve before we attempt to start playing Wexford or any of these teams so just need to get back out now and sort out a few things. I would have been happy with the way we played tonight, I know we can play an awful lot better, but it was a real tight game and a real tight struggle and I have to commend the lads for fighting to the end.”
He was also very pleased with the character his side showed.
“Maybe that more than anything. There was a strong breeze out there and we had to fight really hard. We made a few changes that may have made a bit of a difference. Really in the last five minutes we just wanted it more than Offaly and I think that’s what showed.”
Having played with the wind in the first-half, Laois only lead by three at the break despite holding Offaly scoreless for the first 20 minutes. When asked after the game if he was concerned having such a slender lead at the break, Plunkett said he wasn’t because of the defensive nature of Offaly’s game in the opening half-hour.
“Not particularly because I knew that Offaly had brought an awful lot of men back and it was difficult to play. I actually said to the lads at half-time that Offaly were going to have to go back to conventional hurling to win this game in the second-half and if they do it’s going to create space and if that’s the case we’re going to have a little more room to play our hurling. It didn’t really turn out like that to be honest but in the end we did find the space and we were certainly a little more hungry than them in the end.”
While ackowledging that this was just one game which advanced his side in the Leinster Championship, the Laois manager was quick to point to the importance of the win in the greater scheme of things.
“This is hugley important for Laois, I’m not underplaying that for one moment. It’s hugely important to the development of these players and for their future careers. We just need to work a little bit harder over the coming weeks. We’ll just take it a game at a time. We were unfortunate against Wexford last year. There was only a couple of points in it at the end. We know we have some work to do but we have eight weeks to do that now and correct some things and get a little more fluency into our hurling and if we do that, we’ll be looking forward to this challenge.”