Laois footballer manager Justin McNulty admitted to having a ‘gutting’ feeling on Sunday afternoon, as his side slipped to a seven point defeat to Down to confirm their relegation from Division 1.
Laois needed to win by three points or more to secure a place in the top flight for 2013, and despite having the lions share of possession, they just couldn’t get the scores the needed.
Speaking afterwards, a disappointed McNulty admitted it was a game his team felt the could, and should, have won. “The players are gutted, they believed they could have gotten a result today and to be coming in after a seven point defeat, given the amount of chances and opportunities that we had and the amount of possession we had, it’s very gutting.
“It’s something that now we have to recover from, the lads will take a week off to recover and re-focus, and we’ll have to really get back and get ready to prepare for the championship, because that’s ultimately where you are going to be judged, in the championship.”
Laois had started brightly, attacking as often as possible and putting Down under pressure across the field, but they just couldn’t get the scores on the board, as wide after wide in the first half brought groans from the crowd.
With every shot that slipped past the posts, McNulty knew Laois chances of survival went with it. “Every time we missed one of those easy shots it dented our own confidence and it gave Down a bit of a lift, and when you do that it’s a sort of a snowball effect, the confidence gets lower and lower, and it gives the other team more opportunities.”
Laois now have five weeks to prepare for their championship opener with Longford, and the manager is fully aware of the challenge awaiting his side. “We’re under no illusions, Longford are riding the crest of a wave, they got a win today, they are undefeated this season in league competition and they will be a tough, tough proposition, but one we’ll not be afraid of. We’ll look forward to it and seek to put in a performance.”
While looking forward to the Longford game, he also took time to reflect on Laois’ Division 1 campaign, and while it ended in disappointment, he was hopeful that the more difficult games would stand to Laois down the road. “I think we’ve learned a lot about the team, and the team has learned a lot about itself.
“Division 1 football is a tough division to be in, but if we had have gotten the result that we could have gotten today, with the chances that we created, it would have been a very successful season, but it didn’t turn out that way.
“It was a big learning process for the team, but it was definitely a good platform to build and work towards the championship from.”