John Sugrue was understandably pleased but sensibly restrained after watching his Laois side make the best of a strong start to see off neighbours Carlow and claim Division 4 honours.
It had been far from the ideal build-up to a big game but Sugrue and Laois GAA were not found wanting when it came to taking action, as top scorer Gary Walsh was dropped following a tweet in response to the verdict of the Belfast rape trial.
The manager is keen to draw a line under the incident now and Walsh was part of the match-day group celebrating with the trophy.
Kerry native Sugrue was pleased with how the rest of the players did not allow the potentially disruptive turn of events impact them in a negative fashion.
“These things are unfortunate and they are unnecessary for the team and the individual,” reflected Sugrue.
“For that, I’d like to say that we apologise for any offence caused, it wasn’t intentional on behalf of the Laois footballers, so we’ll move on from that now and I thought the lads showed good clarity of thought, a good focus and good will to win.
“The price he paid, people can decide that themselves. We spoke to the team about how we wanted to behave ourselves during the week. It was a breach of that, and they are just the consequences. It’s unfortunate. We’ll move on.”
Laois did not miss Walsh on this occasion at least, with Donie Kingston and Ross Munnelly the focal point of their attacking efforts. Between them, the duo scored nine points and six of those came from play.
It was the endeavours of the entire squad to create opportunities that impressed Sugrue most however.
“We’ve tried to be different as a team and as individuals this year, and it was kind of epitomised with the workrate: lots of fellas are out on their feet after putting in a phenomenal workrate. It’s a great tribute to the lads how we’ve knuckled down. It’s good to come up here and get what we were going after... last week we got our promotion and this week got our bonus on top of that, so it’s good.
“Carlow are tough and they’re sticky and they don’t give up too many chances, but I thought today we tweaked a couple of little bits and pieces and it just seemed to work.” Preparations will now be ramped up in preparation for the first-round Leinster Championship clash with Wexford in just under six weeks.
“We’ve just got to take stock. We’ve beaten a reasonably well organised Carlow side two weekends on the trot.
“It is still Division 4, so let nobody lose sight of that. We’ve just got out of Division 4, we’ve won the Division 4 final, it’s nice to do it and we’ll enjoy it, but we really have to get ourselves back to basics and get back to the grindstone.
“There are a couple of tough weeks ahead, trying to get another gear change if we can get it out of ourselves, and if we can get that, we’ll compete hard with Wexford.”
Laois did the damage in the opening quarter, at the end of which they led by 0-5 to 0-0 and while Carlow improved significantly from the time Darragh Foley launched a 17th minute point and cut the margin to three early in the second half, they were denied the goal they needed by two good stops by Graham Brody and Mark Timmons from Ciaran Moran and Brendan Murphy.
Scorers for Laois:
D Kingston (0-5, 2f); R Munnelly (0-4, 2f); E Lowry (0-3, 1f); J O’Loughlin, K Lillis, A Farrell (0-1 each).
Scorers for Carlow:
D Foley (1f), S Gannon (0-3 each); P Broderick (0-2, 1f); B Murphy, S Murphy, S Redmond (0-1 each).
G Brody, S Attride, M Timmons, G Dillon, T Collins, C Begley, R Pigott, J O’Loughlin, K Lillis, A Farrell, B Carroll, B Glynn, R Munnelly, D Kingston, E Lowry.
D O’Reilly for Carroll (51), D Strong for Glynn (60), D Conway for Munnelly (62), N Donoher for Pigott (66), J Farrell for Kingston (70+2), F Crowley for Collins (70+2).
R Molloy, C Crowley, S Redmond, M Rennick, J Morrissey, D St Ledger, C Moran, B Murphy, S Murphy, S Gannon, D Foley, E Ruth, P Broderick, D O’Brien, J Murphy.
C Lawler for Rennick (56), D Walshe for O’Brien (62), B Kavanagh for Moran (66), K Nolan for Morrissey (66, L Walker for J Murphy (70).
M McNally (Monaghan).
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved