Monday 22 December 2014

Cheddar's sterling work finally has Laois competing with the big cheeses

Colm Parkinson

Published 26/03/2014 | 02:30

Laois manager Seamus Plunkett with his players
Laois manager Seamus Plunkett with his players

I couldn't possibly let this week go by without congratulating Seamus 'Cheddar' Plunkett and the Laois hurlers on reaching the league quarter-finals.

To do so at the expense of our more illustrious neighbours Offaly is great, but to do so without so many first-choice players really highlights the fantastic work being done by Cheddar and the panel.

In my days, hurling was the poor relation in Laois GAA. Not any more.

Cheddar is the facilitator at the head of a back-room team that includes Ger Cunningham (coach), Pat Flanagan (physical trainer), Brendan Cummins (goalkeeping coach), a nutritionist, a sports psychologist (always important in Laois) and video analysts.

Six of last year's starting championship team are unavailable for various reasons. Zane Keenan is doing a disappearing act (I can't talk, I know) and so is Gearoid Burke. Cahir Healy is travelling, while James Walsh, John Brophy and Brian Dunne are injured.

For a small hurling county like Laois to be competing with Limerick and Wexford and beating Offaly shows what hard work and an organised set-up can achieve.

With Laois having some good minor and U-21 teams in recent years and Croke Park promising €1m funding for middle-tier counties over the next five years, Laois hurling can finally get back to competing with the big boys.

But first, the small matter of welcoming the All-Ireland champions to O'Moore Park this Sunday.

CP

Irish Independent

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