FORMER Laois star Mick Lawlor has hit out at Liam Kearns following the defeat to Derry in the all-Ireland qualifiers.
The Emo man was a pivotal part of the Laois team that won the Leinster title in 2003 but he now believes the time has come for Kearns to leave the Laois managerial post.
“We need a new manager and the man (Kearns) has to go,” Lawlor told the Laois Nationalist.
“We didn’t have the proper balance in the panel this year. We didn’t have any substitutes to bring on and I don’t know how he didn’t see that six months ago.
“He has been complaining about injuries and that but we have 16 senior clubs in Laois and he should be able to pick players from them. If they don’t deliver in the Premiership they would be gone and it should be bye, bye Mr Kearns.”
Lawlor looked back at the 2003 side claiming their ability to pluck play-ers off the bench helped them win.
“When we won the Leinster in 2003 we had a better balance in the panel. We had David Sweeney (Portarlington), Colm Parkinson, Hughie Emerson and Donal Miller (Annanough) on the bench, they made a big difference when they came on.
“We had the older heads and we had some young players too. We trained very hard and gave it total commitment and we had to forget about everything else.”
The Laois players have received criticism over the season but the Emo man reckons some of it is brought on by their own actions.
“There are certain play-ers you would have to give out about. Barry Brennan has been in and out of the panel all year, he should have been told he either wants to play for the county or he doesn’t. It is then very easy for people to pick holes in some of the players then.”
Lawlor, who is a household name around the county, reckons someone with the calibre of Richie O’Connor would be perfect for the Laois team.
“It is going to be tough to pick someone but Richie O’Connor would be a good one. When he trained us we had the likes of Michael Dempsey, Martin Dempsey and Hughie Emerson, these were all big players.
“You would be afraid of him and you would definitely do what he said. We definitely need a big change of manager.”
Not too many players have stood out for Laois over the course of the championship but the Emo player has reserved special praise for Michael John Tierney and Joe Higgins.
“Tierney is outstanding with the frees but Joe Higgins has been outstanding. He has kept Laois in the champion-ship during the year. Bar the game with Dublin he was the one player who stood up against Derry on Saturday.
“Only for Fergal Byron with that save in the first half, it would have put us out of the championship if it went in. These are play-ers who are getting near the end of their career too. Tom Kelly, Chris Conway and Joe (Higgins) are nearly 30 and time is running out for them.
“We have had a very poor year and we didn’t have one good performance in the Leinster championship. The first 20 minutes against Dublin was the only good thing,” he concluded.
© The Nationalist