LAOIS chairman Brian Allen believes Justin McNulty is the "best man for the job" of revitalising football fortunes in the O'Moore county.
McNulty's name will go before the Laois GAA executive and then a full county board for ratification tonight, but this can be viewed as a rubber-stamping procedure that will culminate in the Armagh All-Ireland medallist taking up his first appointment as an inter-county manager.
It also represents a bitter pill for Pat Roe, who has now challenged three times for the top job in his native county - without any success.
"We looked at a lot of options and we felt he would be the best man for the job," Allen told the Evening Herald. "We feel he will bring a new impetus to our set-up and bring us to the next level. A lot of good work has been done, but we feel this is the right thing to do at this point, to move Laois onwards and upwards."
McNulty was full-back on the Armagh team that achieved All-Ireland history in 2002, while his managerial CV includes leading Mullahoran to a Cavan club title (2006) and St Brigid's to an appearance in the Dublin SFC final (2007).
He came on board as as Armagh selector under Paddy O'Rourke this season, but that connection will now be severed as he seeks to re-establish Laois as a Leinster force after unsuccessful two-year stints under Liam Kearns and, more recently, Seán Dempsey.
Allen cited McNulty's previous achievements as one of the reasons he was pinpointed by their five-man committee, adding: "Plus he's a new name on the block. We felt he had the groundwork done, and also had an insight into what it takes at this level to win."
The Laois chief offered a diplomatic response to last week's critical comments from Roe, who complained of the process: "It's bizarre that it's taking so long ... the vacuum has been filled by rumours and that isn't a good situation. Obviously the county executive can take as long as they want and they want to get it right, but I believe I am the best man for the job and I find it very frustrating."
Allen replied: "I have made it clear all the time that I was going to make sure we got, in our opinion, what was best for Laois football - if it took two weeks or two months."
Roe served as Laois U21 boss this season, having previously managed Carlow, Wexford and Offaly. Other high-profile outsiders linked with the post (and reportedly all unavailable) included Galway talisman Pádraic Joyce, retired Kerry icon Darragh ó Sé and reappointed Monaghan boss Seamus McEnaney. The senior hurling vacancy has yet to be filled, but Brother Phil Ryan is set to be installed as minor hurling manager tonight.
TOMMY WALSH last night went for cryotherapy treatment in Wexford as Kilkenny hurling fans sweat on the latest injury mishap to affect their quest for an unprecedented fifth consecutive All-Ireland SHC title.
The 2009 Hurler of the Year injured his left shoulder in a collision with county colleague Jackie Tyrrell, while playing for Tullaroan against James Stephens in a Kilkenny SHL game. Walsh initially played on before coming off with ten minutes remaining; ice was applied and he left the venue with his arm in a sling. The full extent of his injury won't be known until later today.