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Laois boss Higgins says Dublin are a serious force

JOE HIGGINS manages Laois. He's a big fan of the Jackies.

"Dublin are definitely one of the top teams in the country. They only lost the All-Ireland final by a point, so they are up there with the best of them," says Joe.

He's a decorated footballer himself. He played for the county for over a decade. A genuine Laois Lion.

He's in his first year in the Laois job. The Leinster final defeat by the Dubs last week brought deep disappointment.

"My thoughts were with the girls. I have been in that situation myself as a player. Leinster finals that didn't go well, etc. I know exactly how they feel.

"Dublin were the better team on the day. We had no excuses. They got the scores when it counted. We found it hard to get out of the blocks.

"We were confident enough going into the match that we could put it up to Dublin. We had beaten them in the league, but I have to hand it to Dublin. They were just superior on the day.

"What we have to do now is to learn from the defeat. The one consolation is that we are not out of the Championship. We are still there in the Qualifier route. It's a case of sticking at it."

Laois are no bad side. They have a solid defence and they'll have better days.

Joe is enjoying his role, and in his short time in the post he can already see the game improving.

"The standards are going up every year. Teams are getting better, and that's at all levels.

"The games are becoming more competitive as a result.

"That attracts bigger crowds and increased interest, so that can only be beneficial for the sport," added the former star inter-county corner-back

Joe won the Leinster senior title with Laois in 2003. Magical Micko days. He's also an All-Star.

Himself and selector Martin Gorman will endeavour to get everything right for the Qualifers. And it would be no surprise if Laois booked a place back in the Big Eight.