Laois manager John Sugrue gives some directions to his players during Laois' Division 3 final in Croke Park. PICTURE: Alf Harvey
Laois manager John Sugrue didn’t bite his tongue in his post-match interview following Saturday’s Division 3 Football League defeat to Westmeath in Croke Park, pinpointing his side’s ‘execution’ as their downfall.
“Execution overall,” was Sugrue’s assessment. It was a quick, definitive reply, and a fair conclusion given that Laois had shot fifteen wides over the seventy-five minutes, as well as dropping a couple short.
"I think execution with regard to what we spoke about and execution with regard to having the ball in our hand and doing the right thing with it.
"We need more clarity of thought, we need more concentration and we need to execute better full stop."
Laois shot eight wides in the opening half, converting five of fifteen scoring chances, but Westmeath were guilty themselves. They didn’t register their first score until the sixteenth minute, and they shot four wides.
"We will look back on that video in great detail I think with the squad," Sugrue stated.
"They had chances also in the first-half. Now we probably didn't execute as many of our chances as they did of their's percentage-wise, but they missed their own chances as well in the first-half, but we kicked nine wides.
"I think we had fourteen turnovers of unforced variety so execution was definitely a big issue."
The only goal of the game, and ultimately the difference between the sides at the final whistle, came ten minutes from time when Ger Egan punished a stray pass from Graham Brody while on one of his forays forward.
"Yeah a killer goal again - just execution," Sugrue admitted. "And that is it. If you could put your finger on why we kicked the ball away so many times, kicked it over fellas heads, kicked it directly to Westmeath fellas, handed it to Westmeath fellas.
"If you could put your finger on why we did that, I think we'd have had a different result today."
"I'm in this job 18 months, Graham has come out north of 100 times, I think we conceded one in Leitrim last year, again an execution issue," Sugrue commented.
"That's the second one today. So of 100 patterns of play that he's been involved in, two goals is probably not a big return for an opposition. It's one goal - it's a fairly significant one today, but they're the margins you're playing with.
Laois have now lost to Westmeath twice in 2019, and they’re due a third meeting in the Leinster SFC quarter-final in O’Connor Park, Tullamore in seven weeks time.
“Today was a good chance to get closer to Westmeath. We played them 6/7 weeks ago and we were three points shy of them. We were three points shy again today - that to me indicates no progress.”