Laois senior hurling took another blow last Monday night after it emerged that only eight senior players attended a meeting to review the 2012 season and plot a way forward for 2013.
Minor hurling manager Seamas Plunkett and former Laois hurler Paul Cuddy had organised the meeting to allow players to air their grievances and suggest ways to improve the setup for next year.
Both men became involved in the process to act as intermediaries when a meeting between a group of six players and County Board officials was adjourned, after both parties failed to find any common ground last month.
The meeting last Monday was open to all players who had been on the 2012 panel, as well as any players who had not made themselves available for selection. In spite of the broad invitation, only eight players showed up to meet Plunkett and Cuddy.
The process of consulting with the players has been revived, however, with Plunkett and Cuddy now meeting with smaller groups of players over the last week, and they are expected to meet more players in the coming days before filing a report to the County Board, who hope to have it this weekend.
Laois GAA Chairman Brian Allen admitted that meeting with smaller groups of players was probably the approach that should have been taken in the first place. “It was disappointing (to have eight players show up), but maybe we should have went with things the other way from the start. There was a lot of players away in college and some other players had been involved in the county semi-finals the day before, so in hindsight, Monday was not a great night to have it.”
With such a poor showing at the meeting, however, it will raise the topic of Christy Ring hurling for 2013 after Croke Park wrote to Laois GAA earlier this year to ask if they intended to participate in the competition next year. While that may loom on the horizon, Allen refused to accept that Laois would take up the invitation. “We haven’t gotten as far as that yet, we’ll wait for the report to come in and see what we’re going to do then, going forward.”
The timeline for the recovery from this setback will see Plunkett and Cuddy meet with smaller groups of players during the rest of this week, with Allen hoping they are in a position to file their report by this weekend. Once the report has been submitted, it will be discussed by the Laois GAA Executive before action is then taken on what is recommended.
With the senior team still without a manager, the process of filling that void is expected to begin soon afterwards, although Allen hinted that there may be more than one role appointed. “It will be about appointing a management team more so than a manager, a physical trainer, coach and selectors all come in to play when you are appointing a manager.”
There will be more scrutiny than ever on the next appointment as Laois look to recover from two disastrous seasons, during which two managers have walked away from the post, Brendan Fennelly and Teddy McCarthy. There have been calls for a Laois man to be appointed next after the relative success enjoyed by Niall Rigney during his term, as well as the improved fortunes of the Laois minor and U-21 hurlers in 2012 under the stewardship of Laois managers.