Tuesday 26 September 2017

Laois must not pay Dubs too much respect

Laois manager Mick Lillis. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Laois manager Mick Lillis. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Peter Canavan

I was asked the other day what would I do this week if I was the Laois manager, before my interrogator wryly added "besides from saying novenas".

Leaving aside the unnecessary sarcasm, the question got me thinking about tomorrow's game with the Dubs and the huge task which Mick Lillis has on his plate.

I don't envy him one bit, but I would mainly concentrate on four things.

Firstly, I'd be removing the aura of invincibility that surrounds the Dubs and I'd be getting onto the Laois players who play their club football in Dublin.

They need to be vocal in the dressing-room and telling their team-mates that these Dublin fellas didn't look anything special when wearing their club jerseys, so why should this be any different?

Secondly, I'd be repeating tackling and defensive drills until the cows came home. Laois conceded 11 goals in Division 2 (scoring only four), so their defensive game-plan has to have changed since then.

Longford went man for man with the Dubs last year and were duly routed by 27 points.

You've got to draw up a defensive system, but everyone must know their role and you've got to get all your players to buy into it - not like Armagh last week, who got men behind the ball against Cavan, but nearly everyone of them was leaving it up to the man beside him to do the tackling.

Then I'd be outlining in no uncertain terms is that it's the Laois players must set the tempo from the start. They cannot afford to allow Dublin dictate and saunter around Nowlan Park because the Dublin forward line don't need much ball to hurt you.

Every Laois man has got to get under the skin of his marker and show him that he's willing to be carried out on his shield.

Finally, I'd be making sure that the team would ask questions of the Dublin full-back line.

Since Rory O'Carroll's departure, the Dublin defence hasn't really been tested.

Without doubt, Stephen Cluxton is the best goalkeeper in the land, but he is not six-feet-plus and I feel he is susceptible under the high ball.

In Donie Kingston, Laois have a big man with the skill and scoring ability to exploit that potential weakness. When they turn over Dublin, they have got to move the ball quickly and hit Kingston with long, diagonal ball.

If all that worked and Laois did manage to pull off the biggest surprise of all time, it's then I'd be saying my novena of thanks.

Irish Independent

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