Two games, two wins, and everything is shaping up nicely for Laois manager Brendan Fennelly after his side produced an impressive display to see off Wexford in the Walsh Cup on Sunday afternoon.
While the Walsh Cup merely serves as a chance to shake off the cobwebs for many teams, Fennelly admitted after the game he was eager to get the win over Wexford as he continues to fine tune his preparations for the upcoming league. "We really wanted to win this game today, we didn't want to be looking for a practice match next weekend, we wanted to be playing a Walsh Cup semi-final against Kilkenny," explained Fennelly. "They will have a lot of players on trial so that will be a good challenge for us.
"We're trying to get a balance and find a couple of new players. Laois have lost a few players from last year and we're trying to blood in some new players and it's all part of the learning process. For the first 20 minutes we played some lovely hurling and then for some unknown reason lads were taking their foot off the pedal and thinking they could drift through the rest of the game. The better the teams you play, the more trouble you'll get into in those situations, and we'll have to learn to keep focussed and be ruthless."
He also acknowledged that if Laois allow Kilkenny back into the game, as they did here with Wexford, then they will find their run of victories coming to an end. "If Kilkenny got level with you with a quarter of an hour to go they would beat you, but that's part of the learning process. Overall, we'd have to be very pleased to win the first two matches of the year, and we'll look forward to another game next week."
While the victory was most welcome, there were still some negatives to the game from Laois' point of view, most notably how they allowed Wexford back into the game after opening up a commanding 11 point lead in the first half. The subsequent failure to maintain that advantage was a source of concern for Fennelly. "We asked the question at half time why did we hurl like that for 20 minutes and then go out of the game? The last 12 minutes of the first half we lost probably five points to one after murdering them for the first 20 minutes, but that's where the really good teams are ruthless, they drive on, and we'll have to learn to be a bit more ruthless. In fairness to Wexford and teams like that, they're not going to die soft."
Overall though the positives outweighed the negatives, and with a number of fringe players getting a run out Fennelly was pleased to have had the chance to get a look at the players. "I'm learning, everybody is learning and we're pleased with where we are."