Unlike six days earlier, this time Sean Dempsey had no reason to be cracking jokes. For the second summer in succession his side had bombed out of the Leinster championship in Tullamore where the margin of defeat was again in double figures.
His views on the match were easy to package: the goals were a killer; so too Laois’ wastefulness in front of goal. And after two energy-sapping games in quick succession, he knows it’s going to be difficult to pick things up for Sunday’s game against Tipperary.
“Very disappointing end result,” he sighed afterwards in the tunnel. “Your heart has to go out to them. You could see it from the sideline that they were working their backsides off out there.
“But the two goals were really the difference today. We couldn’t keep coming back and coming back. They just got too much daylight between us and them and I wouldn’t say we panicked but we started to go for goals. If we had to tag on a few points, we might have dragged their defence out and might have got a goal then but when they had 12 or 13 outfield players behind the ball, we weren’t going to get goals then.”
Dempsey was happy with the way his side raced out of the blocks but their composure in front of goal let them down too often. And at this level, that doesn’t go unpunished.
“We started the match well in terms of how we were playing but they weren’t going over the bar for us. We kicked too many wides in both halves but particularly in the first quarter of an hour. When you’re dominating possession, you need to get scores and we weren’t doing that. It’s cruel. You’re not going to win championship matches against opposition like that when you’re taking only taking a third of your chances.
“The two goals we did concede were certainly disappointing. We had to throw caution to the wind and when you do that you’re pushing forward and you do lose a bit of your shape. There’s a danger they will catch you on the counter and they did.
“We chased the game for 20 minutes last week and came away with the draw. Once we went behind today, they’re not going to make the same mistake.”
There’s little time to feel sorry for themselves though. Tiredness is an issue but Dempsey feels his side can redeem themselves on the cicuitious route of the All Ireland Qualifiers.
“The lads are down now but we’ll pick ourselves up and get on with what we have to get on with next week. That’s the nature of what we do. We have to keep trying.
“There won’t be anything easy there (against Tipp). Tipperary will have been watching us tonight and they’ll have a plan for us. We’ve been concentrating up to now on beating Meath but it will be a tough match for us down there. We feel the squad is strong and we can give a performance next week. If we were playing Dublin we’d have to do it.
“Some counties don’t take the Qualifiers seriously. If we’re professional about what we do, we have a championship match next weekend. Whether’s it’s a Leinster championship or a Qualifier, it’s still a championship game and we have to approach it that way.”
By Steven Miller, Leinster Express