Monday 24 October 2016

Laois in crisis after 'Cheddar' walks out

Published 29/05/2015 | 02:30

Two Laois hurlers who played for their club in a challenge match earlier this week - a move that prompted county manager Seamus 'Cheddar' Plunkett to resign - have been removed from the squad.

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Matthew Whelan - last year's county captain - and Jim Fitzpatrick lined out for Borris-in-Ossory-Kilcotton against Tipperary opponents on Monday night, against the wishes of the management.

Plunkett is understood to have felt so let down that he tendered his resignation in a shock move.

Laois are confident that Plunkett can be persuaded back at some stage in the future, but a return ahead of next week's Leinster quarter-final with Offaly is considered unlikely by informed sources in the county.

Other Laois panellists from Borris-in-Ossory-Kilcotton, including Brian Stapleton and PJ Cuddy, elected not to play in the challenge game.

There is some surprise that the management did not just opt to release the players from the squad and press on.

Ger Cunningham, the former Newtownshandrum coach who has been assisting Plunkett, has agreed to take over on an interim basis.

Under Plunkett, Laois have made significant strides over the last two seasons, twice coming close to beat Galway in the Championship. They also reached the 2014 League quarter-final, losing to Clare.

They have become one of the most organised squads in the game. They recently spent a week on a warm-weather training camp in Portugal, the finance for which was organised by Plunkett himself.

He has been generally credited with a revival in Laois hurling at all levels and his departure in such circumstances is seen as disastrous for the county.

A Laois statement said he had departed for "personal reasons."

Irish Independent

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