After a disappointing league campaign, Laois manager Teddy McCarthy was left to reflect on a game Laois competed well in, but still lost by eight points.
It was a game which threw up as many questions as answers, but speaking afterwards, the Cork man was adamant it was a game Laois could have won. “Without a shadow of a doubt, the lads were very focussed for it, we started off well, went five points to one up, the seven man back line was working for us.
“We had a plan to bring in Neil Foyle in the second half to go the orthodox way, but I just think we got a bit tired in the end, because they worked fierce hard. I just felt we couldn’t get enough ball into Neil Foyle, because every time it came in, we got something out of it. People will probably say we should have started him, but he is only just back from an operation, he only trained last Wednesday and Friday and we felt it would be unfair to bring him on and ask too much of him after the operation.
“Overall, we have a panel of players, we were beaten convincingly but I just hope that the Laois people will say ‘there is something here and there is something to go to matches and watch Laois for.’”
On the down side for Laois, they conceded five goals, and the manager feels that when he can get a settled back line in place, things will improve in this area. “They’re probably lacking a bit of understanding there at times, we were plagued with injuries all year and we were chopping and changing in defence, and chopping and changing the whole team really, we were trying to find out how fellas would do in other positions.
“In defence, you need a solid six or seven guys who know what it’s all about, and we’re working for that, and we’re looking for that, and hopefully we’ll have that for Carlow.”
One defender he did welcome back for this game was Portlaoise’s Cahir Healy, and McCarthy reserved special praise for the corner back. “Cahir said he was interested at the start of the year, but I’ll tell you one thing about Cahir, God he’s some man to wear the Laois jersey.
“It was the first time I’d really seen him playing hurling, he pucked around with us during the week, but his appetite, his dedication to the game is superb, he was inspirational in the second half, coming up the field and scoring a point. Normally things like that would lift all boats, but unfortunately for us it didn’t today.”
McCarthy has stated repeatedly that Laois would be on the back foot from the beginning in this league, as they only got back training in early January, with little or no individual fitness or condition work done before then.
As he reflects now, he feels they will only know if they have improved enough over the last six games when they meet Carlow on May 19. “It’s hard to know, time will only tell when we play the championship. As I said, it is a very competitive league, there is no doubt about that.
“It’s no disgrace if we’re down in Division 2 next year, it’s up to ourselves to man up to it and knuckle down, it’s going to be very difficult to do it, but it’s the job at hand. We have a lot of young fellas on the panel too and we’ll try to develop them, and maybe down in Division 2 you can develop them away there.”