Laois' John O’Loughlin: Laois players learning to put team first

Laois footballer John O’Loughlin says the county has eliminated individualism and finally begun playing as a team under manager John Sugrue.

Sugrue took over the Laois footballers last September and has completely turned their fortunes around, leading the Barrowsiders to their first Leinster SFC final since 2007.

“I think the big thing John has brought to us is we’re playing as a team now. Laois are probably not renowned for playing as a team and that’s why we haven’t won as many matches as we should,” O’Loughlin said.

When we’ve won a match, it could be because some lads are playing brilliant but it’s never been a collective — or I didn’t think it was anyway. But if you watched us this year, we do play as a team now. Everyone is involved and we try to do the right thing with the ball,” O’Loughlin said.

The 29-year-old midfielder has seen his side drop from Division 1 all the way to Division 4 last year, but he now believes the county’s fortunes have changed.

“For success, you need a lot. So many things have to come together and we just didn’t have enough of those things coming together but that happens in sport. It happens with every team, in every county and not just Gaelic games; in soccer, rugby, whatever sport. Teams have their purple patches and then they don’t, they unravel unfortunately but you just have to keep working hard at getting back to where you perceive the team should be.

Growing up, I perceived that Laois should be competing in Leinster finals and thankfully we’re back there.

As a clubmate of Dublin star Paddy Andrews, who has been playing with St Brigid’s since 2011, O’Loughlin knows the extent of the challenge the Division 4 champions will face on Sunday. But he insists Laois will concentrate on getting a performance out of themselves.

“They play football really simple. Football’s a simple game, but they do the simple things very, very well and they’re such a good team.

“But, because we were coming from a low enough base, all year we’ve been focusing on ourselves — and it’s not going to change too much.”


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