Opinion

Laois dared to dream and this time the dreams of victory came true

Former GAA President Liam O'Nell gives his take on the Dublin win

Liam O'Neill, Laois native and former GAA president

Reporter:

Liam O'Neill, Laois native and former GAA president

laois gaa dublin TIPPERARY

Ross King scores for Laois against Dublin in the All Ireland preliminary quarter-final qualifier victory at O'Moore Park Picture: Alf Harvey.

It was magic. We live for days like this. It was, of course, pure joy.

We went to O'Moore Park dreaming of an unlikely win but in reality hoping we could put up a good performance.

So often before we have dreamed of the big win only to wake up to the disappointing reality of yet another defeat and thoughts of what might have been. However, there was something different about last Sunday.

We met thousands of Meath supporters heading out of O'Moore Park and we expected to see lots of empty seats inside the ground. When we got to the stand it was full again, of Laois supporters.

A huge crowd had come into the ground. There was a buzz that I hadn’t felt there before. The crowd wanted a performance from Laois and when they got it from the players in the opening quarter they responded with chants of LAOIS LAOIS LAOIS that made the hair stand on the backs of our necks.

The players fed off this and dug deep to deliver a win that will live long in our collective memory.

Are these a special bunch of players? MORE BELOW PICTURE

Of course they are. They had plenty of opportunities yesterday to lie down and give in to a Dublin team that came back at them time and time again.

But they didn’t.

Every time Dublin drew level or even cut the deficit Laois found that little bit extra to surge ahead again. They were mentally prepared like no Laois hurling team ever was. Credit for this must go to the management team led by Eddie Brennan.

I know he modestly said he deserves no credit and that it was all down to the players. We know our squad is made up of men of the highest calibre but they needed leadership and that’s what Eddie and his backroom team gave them and it made the difference yesterday.

Like all people my age, I have followed Laois hurling teams without seeing very much success in the Senior Hurling Championship. People often ask me what keeps Laois hurling people going year after year with scant reward.

It’s hard to explain to people who think that it’s all about winning. But we know that it’s not just about that.

It’s about being part of hurling. Our Hurling population is relatively small. MORE BELOW PICTURE

One of the biggest clubs in Waterford has a population bigger than the hurling area in Laois. Yet we have managed to stay in tier one in Hurling for almost all the 135 years of the GAA.

Incidentally, we were never relegated from the Mc Carthy Cup. We were removed in the Boardroom.

But we are back where we belong now and hopefully, both Hurling and Camogie will benefit hugely from the joy of these few weeks. I hope we can build on it and make our children proud of our national games and proud of our county.

Anybody looking at the scenes in O Moore Park after the game on Sunday couldn’t help seeing that all of us gathered there in shared joy and bliss not only in the love hurling but also a love Laois.

WE ARE LAOIS.