By Pat Delaney
CONGRESS is over again and not a mention of all the counties and players who have trained since November until last Sunday but now are idle just as grounds are beginning to improve.
Only the elite counties continue to prepare for the knock out stages of the league and that will run them into the early rounds of the championship. Even Carlow, whom Laois beat, will have another outing a real competitive game in Mullingar against Westmeath who like Carlow suffered five successive losses.
Okay, that was what Laois were hoping to avoid and they just about achieved it but how does Eddie Brennan keep his panel happy. They will all return to their clubs for the month of April as is recommended by Congress but will he be happy just having them back 16 days before heading down over the Dinan Bridge again.
I’m sure he and his backroom team will have it all figured out but he knows, and everyone else knows, it will not be easy. Speaking after the game he admitted there is some tidying up to be done. Last year Ryan Mullaney was his discovery of the year and he will be hoping to see him sometime soon.
One man who is relishing his absence is Padraig Delaney from the Harps. For the second week in a row he really looked the part and although Eoin Cody was top scorer for Kilkenny, nearly all came from placed balls. Delaney only joined the panel last year but learned a lot from the Castletown man and whether the two remain right beside will be interesting.
In fairness, despite conceding 3-22 the defence worked hard and at the other end, for the first time, the full forward line all contributed to the scoring. However, midfield remains major problem. John Lennon did a lot of good work last year but this year, with injuries, he is struggling. However, knowing him he will get back to his best. Remember he is a dual player and last year competed in club championships in both codes, a huge demand on a young man.
Mark Kavanagh was listed on the subs bench on Sunday but I think he still has some way to go but might make that big day in May. Unfortunately he will not have much match practice but he is the type of player who will do his utmost to get on the field again. Injury has plagued him so often like the unfortunate Cahir Healy with the footballers. James Keyes and Eoin Gaughan have both showed good touches and will be options and it is good to see Cian Taylor and Frank Flanagan in the mix. But the real find in the Town is Ciaran McEvoy. His first love was football but since he came in here he has worked hard.
There is a lot of soul searching but when asked on Sunday about the Congress decision to cancel relegation in the provincial championship Eddie Brennan admitted he was delighted. The decision guarantees at least two more years of top class championship hurling, a very positive note to end on with such a very young panel.