Laois manager Justin McNulty spoke of his delight at the manner in which is his bounced back from their humbling defeat to Dublin, as they saw off Tipperary by eleven points on Saturday night.
The Laois team which start his game looked infinitely better than the one which finished that Leinster quarter-final clash, and afterwards the Armagh man was keen to heap praise on the squad. “We’d have to be happy with the manner of the performance, even more so than the result, the manner of the performance and the character and the resilience shown by the guys, coming back from a soul-destroying defeat against Dublin.
“They were written off in all quarters and to play like that was a testament to the character, the resilience and the determination of the group.”
Laois set the tone for the win in the opening minutes, as they raced into a 0-5 to 0-1 lead after an impressive first 15 minutes. Everything they did was much crisper and more purposeful, and after that start they always held the advantage. As he analysed the game afterwards, McNulty admitted Laois’ bright start was key to setting them on their way. “We got a good early score which gave us a bit of confidence, but there were periods in the first half where we were dominanting the game, but we weren’t dominating the game on the scoreboard.
“The match was still up for grabs at half time, and then once we came and had a massive push after half time, that sort of killed off the game as a contest.”
It’s onwards and upwards now to a date with Kildare on July 9, and while the Qualifiers bring their own demands, McNulty could only see positives in his side putting together a run through the back door. “It is a totally different kettle of fish (the Qualifiers), but in a way it’s better. These guys are footballers, that’s what they are here to do and they want to be playing more often than the current championship system possibly allows.
“Two or three games a year are not really worth all the training. Premiership soccer teams play once or twice a week, why can’t GAA teams play at that level as well, once every week or even two weeks? It’s certainly not a problem in my mind, once we don’t get any injury problems I don’t see that as being a problem, I see it as being an exciting challenge and an exciting opportunity.”
The injuries he mentioned seems to be easing off, with Denis Booth making a return to action, as did Daithi Carroll after his ankle woes. Peter O’Leary got 35 minutes under his belt, while Barry Brennan also made his first appearance since joining up with the panel.
McNulty used his full compliment of substitutes too, and he explained it was important for him to use the players at his disposal. “This is not a fifteen man game, it’s a squad game, and we have full confidence in the squad, not just the fifteen.
“We have strength in depth and we can call on any of the guys at any stage in the match and know that they will do a job equally as well as the guy who started, which is very healthy for the team and squad.”