Seamus Plunkett up for fight to avoid Laois drop

Laois hurling manager Seamus Plunkett refuses to rule out hopes of making a league quarter-final while accepting his young side now has it all to do to avoid the drop to Division 2A after their opening defeat to Kerry last Sunday.

Seamus Plunkett up for fight to avoid Laois drop

Of the two scenarios, the latter looks much the more likely.

The Leinster county fell to an unexpectedly heavy loss to Ciaran Carey’s newly- promoted Kingdom side. Laois now need a win away to Offaly in Tullamore on Sunday to move away from the precipice in 1B, especially given Clare, Limerick and Wexford await.

“It was always going to be important,” said Plunkett of this weekend’s game against another struggling side. “Being realistic about it, look at where we are: we’re going to be battling. Next Sunday is still a battle for a quarter-final for Laois and that’s the way we need to be facing it.

“It could very well happen some teams are going to take points off each other and you could have three or four teams on two or three points. We’re going to face next Sunday no different to (last weekend) or the following weekend or whatever.

“It didn’t work for us (against Kerry) but if we get the two points on the board, get enough points on the board, we’ll stay in the division. That’s what we’re going to fight for. We’re going to fight really, really hard to try and stay in Division 1B because we realise the importance of that.”

Laois have been hamstrung by the loss of five senior players to retirement over the off-season and two other key men — Zane Keenan and Willie Hyland — are still supposedly some way off the pitch required to feature having returned to the panel late.

“They still have a good bit of work to do to get to the fitness levels,” said Plunkett.

“Regardless of what team you’re playing in Division 1B, its high intensity hurling. So, look, we’ll look at that during the week but they’ve a good little bit to go.”

Like most other managers, Plunkett has been following the various colleges tournaments with some trepidation of injury bulletins. He is already without forward Charlie Dwyer for the trip to Offaly.

Dwyer was one of Plunkett’s better performers in claiming four points from play last weekend, but departed the field early on a straight red, leaving another significant hole for his manager to fill.

“There’s no doubt about that,” said Plunkett. “He’s a very forceful, strong hurler and no doubt important to us.”

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