GAA - Sugrue unruffled by Leitrim comeback as Laois pick up second win

Rory Delaney

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Rory Delaney

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rory@leinsterexpress.ie

GAA - Sugrue unruffled by Leitrim comeback as Laois pick up second win

Laois manager John Sugrue.

Laois manager John Sugrue was pleased to get out of Carrick-on-Shannon with a win on Sunday afternoon, as his team made it two wins from two in NFL Division 4.

Laois were fifteen points up at one stage in the second half, but had to withstand a second-half barrage from the home side, who ended up just six in arrears at the final whistle.

Speaking afterwards, Sugrue wasn't getting too hung up on the manner in which Laois finished the game. "We have two wins out of two and yeah, it was a hairy last quarter, but to be honest with you I thought we were out of sight to a great degree, it was just a lack of composure really, and a lack of finishing up top.

"In the first half we probably shot an awful lot on-sight, or maybe too quick, and then in the second half we maybe reined back on that a small but, and we were complicating things a bit too much and that lead them to get their break-out play patterns going.

"That's what they feed off, is break-out patterns of play and then they all tend to make a charge, and it's very difficult to stop a charge when they get going, but look we got our two points, and we're done."

With a new team, there are bound to be hiccups along the way, and luckily on this occasion Laois had enough of a cushion to absorb what Leitrim threw at them. Sugrue was hopeful that his team will learn from this experience. "To be fair to Leitrim, they played with a good bit of gusto there in the second half and they drove at us when we gave them the ball, and I would say we gave them the ball an awful lot of the time.

"But they really drove at us, and you have to give them great credit for that. Our guys maybe felt we were over the line, and that little bit of softness comes in, and we can't really afford that, we've got to compete for the seventy, physically, as well as mentally, but physically just chase down those balls towards the end of the game and really be hungry to finish out, because we're still learning to win games."

Despite dominating most of the first half, they could have been just two down at half time but for a penalty save from Graham Brody. The Portlaoise stopper was the centre of attention in the second half, when he was caught way out of position, and Leitrim worked a goal chance in his absence.

For the Laois boss, however, he wasn't apportioning blame to Brody's attacking instincts. "Yeah, Brody saved the penalty, it was a very good save in fairness to him. People are going to start asking questions about Brody after their goal, but it was a lack of execution up front that lead to that.

"He had perfectly placed the ball inside, and then we forced a pass that's not necessary. To my mind, his execution this evening was brilliant."

He also had praise for Ross Munnelly, who came on in the second half and kicked two important points. "Yeah, Ross has been absolutely fantastic. He came in last Tuesday night after the weekend when he didn't see any action, and Ross lit the place up in training, so he was probably a little unlucky not to start, we went for a little bit of size inside, but he's pushing."

Sugrue also revealed that Colm Begley was forced off with a quad injury on Sunday, and that Stephen Attride is two or three weeks away from a return.

However, he also laid the gauntlet down to Donie Kingston to earn his way back into the side, when asked if he was close to a return. "A lot of that depends on Donie's application in training, he's come in and he's behind in terms of fitness and he's working away at it, but we're going to have to see more in terms of real intent inside in training, and more in terms of fitness. To be fair to the boys who are playing, they are the fellas that are right on form."

READ ALSO - Laois survive Leitrim revival to secure second league win