'We feel we have a score to settle'
WHEN Portlaoise became the first Laois club to win five county titles in succession, the focus shifted quickly to Leinster.
For a few seasons now, 'The Town' have had their sights set on bigger things but, as captain Craig Rogers explains, they haven't performed to their billing, sometimes due to factors outside of their control.
A bright start that yielded 2-2 in the first 11 minutes against Kilmacud Crokes in Leinster last year proved to be a false dawn as they only managed two more points in the remainder of the game.
But perhaps the AIB All-Ireland club semi-final against Kilmurry-Ibrickane in the 2009-10 campaign sticks in the craw more. Brian Mulligan was sent off in the opening seconds and that essentially sealed their fate.
"We try to forget about those games," said Rogers. "We didn't do ourselves justice. Sometimes there were decisions that went against us and other times we have left it behind ourselves.
"It's been a difficult time for the club with that and the passing of Peter McNulty. We feel we have a score to settle in some regards. We have a lot to play for."
Once again Dublin opposition, in the form of St Brigid's, stand in the way in tomorrow's Leinster semi-final clash at Parnell Park.
Gerry McEntee's Dubliners were in action for the sixth consecutive weekend in the Leinster quarter-final and they showed what were perhaps the first signs of fatigue against Horeswood in the last round.
However, they've had two weeks to recover since then and Rogers, who is the holder of a Dublin SFC medal with UCD, knows what they are likely to face.
"We played them in a challenge earlier in the year. It's hard to know what you can take from those games but it was obvious they have a very good team there.
"The Dublin championship is a serious competition and a lot of the top teams have one or two outsiders playing with them, which ups the standard even more.
"Obviously they have John O'Loughlin (of Laois) and he's an important player for them. Our management team have gone to watch them a bit and we know how good they have to be to come out of Dublin."
Rogers admits that his side "haven't been great in Leinster" as they had scares against both St Patrick's from Louth and Wicklow side Rathnew but they have the bonus of boasting a clean bill of health for the first time this year, with midfielder Adrian Kelly expected to be fit despite a hamstring problem.
But other codes have taken their toll on the club. Paul Cahillane returned home from a stint with Celtic, but Zac Tuohy was soon on his way to the AFL. Tuohy played in the Laois semi-final and final but is now back Down Under with Carlton.
Colm Parkinson also returned to the club after a brief stint with Parnells in Dublin.
Along with Parkinson, Rogers has opted against a return to Justin McNulty's Laois squad. The 2003 All-Ireland minor-winning captain cited a lack of opportunity as the reason behind his decision.
"It is my ambition to play for and do well with Laois. But I wasn't playing and that's what it's all about," Rogers said. "It's a serious demand on your time and you want to get something back out of it. I can see why 'Cha' Fitzpatrick retired.
"I'm not comparing myself to him -- he's won everything in the game -- but he wasn't getting games and it's hard to keep going back in that scenario.
"And I'm lucky in that we have loads we want to do here in the club. We have to try and win as much as we can when we can."