by Fergal Byron
While Brendan Quigley is going to be a massive loss to Laois this weekend against Wicklow, I still can’t see them losing this one.
I think his injury has come early enough for Laois to do something about it and for the players to get their heads around it. They have had a couple of training sessions since he got injured so it’s not as if it happened a day or two before the game.ADVERTISEMENT
Having said that, the injury plague has really hit Laois at a bad time again. I ‘d say Liam Kearns was beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel but with Noel Garvan already ruled out and Padraig Clancy carrying an injury the last player he wanted to see getting injured was Quigley.
Last year he made it known that the injuries were one of the main reasons we didn’t go that well but I think this year he has a stronger panel and he’s probably able to cope better with these injuries.
Overall I think Laois are a stronger team than Wicklow and I think they are a good bit stronger than Kildare as well, who Wicklow beat the last day. We have been contesting Leinster finals in the last few years, something Kildare weren’t doing, and I just think that Laois are a much stronger outfit than what Kildare were.
First of all I think Laois are a Division 1 side and I know that didn’t do Kildare much good against Wicklow, Laois were competitive in all their games and played very well even though they were relegated and I think they have turned the corner since the end of the league.
People might think that Mick O’Dwyer training Wicklow is a huge thing but Laois can use that to their advantage. Wicklow played a very open type of game against Kildare but that’s what Laois are good at and I think in an open type of game, Laois will be better than Wicklow. I mentioned last week that Wicklow were brilliant at winning breaks but Laois have improved a lot in this regard and Billy Sheehan, in particular, has been working hard at it because Chris Conway is massive loss in this regard.
Wicklow’s win over Kildare has been a good warning to Laois too. They know they can’t take them for granted and I would be very disappointed if they did. Wicklow already beat Laois in the U-21 this year and they ran them close last year as well so the Laois players know that they’ll put it up to them but I don’t think Laois will fall into the same trap as Kildare did.
Micko will know Laois fairly well but at the end of the day, knowing them and counteracting them is a very different. Micko will be more focussed on how Wicklow play and he’ll have them mentally and physically ready and with no reason to believe they can’t win.
I think the training weekend came at a very good time and the reports I heard from it were very encouraging. They seemed to do a lot of work and the camaraderie after such a weekend will always be very strong.
I know there could be a lot of Laois players making their debuts but Mickey Nolan has lots of experience and I’d have no worries whatsoever about Cahir Healy.But if Mark Timmons gets in ahead of Cathal Ryan at full-back it does mean that you’ll have three players in very crucial positions playing their first championship game.
If Joe Higgins doesn’t shake off his injury you could be looking at a very inexperienced full-back line. But the half-back line of Tom Kelly, Darren Rooney and Padraig McMahon is as strong as is out there I’d have no worries about them.
In midfield, if Clancy doesn’t play there will definitely be two lads making their championship debuts there - John O’Loughlin and Kevin Meaney - and that would be a slight worry because that’s where Wicklow are at their strongest. Thomas Walsh is a very experienced player and I think there is more in him than he showed against Kildare and while James Stafford mightn’t look like the best footballer around he can do the basics well and will win lots of ball.
In the forwards I think it will be Ross Munnelly, Brian McCormack, Billy Sheehan, Michael Tierney, Colm Kelly (St Joseph’s) and Colm Parkinson. I can’t see Munnelly being dropped. He has never been dropped for Laois and in fairness to him he has always performed in the championship. By his standards he was quiet in the league but I think he deserves the benefit of the doubt here.
The most unfortunate player of all though has to be Peter O’Leary. He did anything that was asked of him in the league and I thought he did a very good job on Darren O’Sullivan against Kerry when a lot of other players were struggling. You have to feel sorry for him. But from what I know of him, if he does miss out, he’s not the type of guy to go off in a sulk and he definitely will be used as he’s an option for the full-back line, the half-back line or the half-forward line. And the amazing thing about him is that he’s the type of player if he’s brought on in a game, he can have an impact straight away, it doesn’t take him five or ten minutes to settle in and on a hot evening, a player of his pace could cause serious problems when the opposition are beginning to get tired in the last 15 minutes.
Hopefully by then Laois will be well on their way to winning it but even allowing for the injuries, I can’t see them being beaten.
Filed under: Laois Football