Sunday 24 September 2017

Evergreen Laois ace Munnelly 66 not out and still hungry for more

Ross Munnelly. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach / Sportsfile
Ross Munnelly. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach / Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

When Laois manager Peter Creedon called for Ross Munnelly as the clocked ticked into injury time in their Leinster SFC clash with Longford on Sunday, it meant little in terms of the overall context of the game.

Laois's lead stood at double figures at that stage and they had already secured their place in the Leinster quarter-final.

As it happened, Munnelly (right) was scarcely on the pitch long enough to stretch his legs but his appearance meant that the Arles-Kilcruise clubman has now featured in a staggering 66 championship games in-a-row since Mick O'Dwyer handed him his debut back in 2003.

Since then Munnelly had put in 15 seasons and worked under seven different Laois managers.

The high water mark came in his first campaign when they secured only the county's sixth provincial title. There have been All Star nominations, All-Ireland quarter-finals and International Rules honours.

And while there has been dark days in between, Munnelly's enthusiasm for the game hasn't dimmed.

"Peter asked me (in) at the start of the year, he said he wanted me on board, so for as long as Laois want me I'll always stay playing, that's my attitude," the 34 year-old Munnelly said.

"And look, we are in a real good position at the minute, we have top-class young fellas coming through and if I can help out with them then I'm more than happy."

And even though he was confined to a bench role last weekend, Munnelly insists he is happy to play whatever role he can as Laois put their poor spring - that saw them relegated to Division 4 - behind them with an 11-point win over their midland rivals.

"It's a case where everyone is trying to put their shoulder to the wheel" he said. "It's not about individuals, it's about Laois winning today.

"When you look at the scoreboard at the end of the game, that is what matters, regardless of who plays so we are thrilled with that. Of course it was disappointing (to be relegated) - no one wants to drop down a division - but at the same time league and championship are separate, we are aware of that and we put in a good block of training and the whole group came together as you have to do when you're getting ready for championship.

"Today is the day where everything went right for us.

"Graham Brody made an unbelievable save that could have changed the game had it gone it and coming in at half-time we rammed in two goals.

"Small things make a big difference in big games and we are just thrilled with that."

Laois move on to a clash with high-flying Kildare, who come into the championship having secured two successive promotions under Cian O'Neill.

"We won't be getting carried away, we'll regroup. It's not that long ago that we were relegated so we will be very realistic.

"We have a local derby coming up in a couple of weeks and we'll have to be all guns blazing and focused on Kildare."

Meanwhile, Meath were handed a boost with the news that captain Graham Reilly came through a club match over the weekend.

Manager Andy McEntee expects to have a full deck to chose from when they travel to Parnell Park to face Louth on Sunday week.

Irish Independent

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