Whirlwind Laois victory stirs up memories of bygone days for players and supporters alike

Rory Delaney

Reporter:

Rory Delaney

Email:

rory@leinsterexpress.ie

Whirlwind Laois victory stirs up memories of bygone days for players and supporters alike

The win harped back to a different time for Laois supporters.

With the momentum building in the second half of yesterday's game, that was when it started. It emerged from the ether, a long forgotten memory which still manages to hold prominence in our collective mindset.

'Laois, Laois, Laois.'

Up the chant went, offered in approval and in hope, as a fan base distraught just twenty minutes earlier started to recover their love of following Laois football, and of following a Laois team.

It will never win an award for originality or creativity, but the chant means a lot to Laois people, and Laois football in particular. It brings us back to a time in our recent past which we had consigned to our memories, said goodbye to, mourned for even.

We didn't expect to hear it this year, and we certainly didn't expect to hear it in Wexford Park, as we processed a truly awful first half performance.

But then a spark was lit. Donie Kingston plucked balls from the sky like a man picking apples from a branch no one else can reach. Ross Munnelly sprinted and twisted and jinked and tormented, his marker only seeing glimpses of the number 13 on his back before he disappeared from sight.

Stephen Attride was launching himself into tackles, John O'Loughlin was barreling his way forward and Gareth Dillon was pumping ice water through his veins. It was intoxicating stuff, a reminder of the past and a glimpse at the future all in one go.

The chant confirmed it, itself having been given life during the glory years of Micko's tenure. That was back when we seemed to be in Croke Park every other weekend, thousands upon thousands of Laois fans in unison, chanting 'Laois, Laois, Laois', as it swirled around the great stadium and rose up to heavens.

As so often seemed to happen in those days, the heavens responded in our favour, and we produced what could well be a defining moment for this team. It may only be Wexford, it may only be a first round game in the Leinster SFC, but it meant something to everyone there, and that in itself means everything.

Supporters flooded the field afterwards. Backslapping, hugging and laughter were rampant. It was like the moments after a county final, when joy overrides everything else and you just want to be in the middle of things, savouring every moment, hoping it keeps going a little bit longer.

It was just after 9pm before the last Laois supporters stepped off the Wexford Park pitch. Then we all went home, happy.

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