By Denis J. Croke
IT has to be one of the hardest aspects of being an inter-county manager, having to meet with the media after watching your side being comprehensively taken apart by the opposition.
On Saturday John Sugrue was dragged away to do an interview for Rte, and was then door-stepped by some national media before eventually meeting with the local media.
As I have often stated Sugrue does not hide his emotions, win or lose, and on Saturday it was n different. You could see he was bitterly disappointed with the way his side had been beaten.
And as is the norm he was very forthright in his assessment of the display.
“Yeah, a tough day at the office. We came up against a team that we couldn’t match today and that is disappointing. We’re out now and that is our year done,” he said.
“There are lots of things at play there with regards to pressure on the ball up the field, to winning our own kick-outs and the pressure inside on their inside line. The blame lies throughout us all.
“Similar to some of our situations this year we probably didn’t put enough chances on the scoreboard and build enough confidence. And then the confidence tends to sap out of the team. But it is what it is we are done for now.”
And all this after Laois had made a decent enough start to the game. But as has been the way this year, goal chances, and Laois had two in the opening half, were not put away.
“We got a good start and probably should have capitalised on a few more opportunities. A little inaccuracy on one or two occasions with the final ball killed us in the first half,” he assessed.
“I thought we created some good chances but then they squeezed up on our kick out in the second half of the first half and that gave them a platform to attack us.
“They were very competitive on kick outs all day and, look it is one of those things, we came up against a side that were at it today and we were marginally off where we needed to be.”
And looking back at his second year in charge how did he asses it. Laois had won promotion to Division 2 which coincidentally Cork had been relegated from and exited the championship at the sake stage as 12 months ago. Would he consider the year had been a success?
“Progress made in the league but no progress made in the championship. They’re a good bunch and they work hard but there is a lot more to work on for that group,” he said.
One of the most pleasing features of this year has to be the number of younger players who made the step up to the senior ranks and acquitted themselves well, players like Colm Murphy Marty Scully, Paddy O’Sullivan, and Sean Byrne.
It was good to see the two under-20 players, Mark Barry and Sean O’Flynn, introduced in the second half and they can now concentrate on the Leinster U/20 championship game against Meath, the semi-final of which takes place tonight (Tuesday) in O’Moore Park and they will surely come into consideration for selection by Ivor O’Loughlin.
“There are plenty of young fellas in Laois and lots of the young fellas that came into the game actually did quite well. The under-20s are going well and now they will have Sean and Mark back with them on Tuesday to lend a bit of momentum to them. So let’s just see how far they can go.”
As regards planning for next year Sugrue would not be drawn.
“It’s very early days to talk about that,” he said.