Tuesday 24 April 2018

Rogers turns down McNulty invite to rejoin Laois panel

Jackie Cahill

FORMER All-Ireland minor-winning captain Craig Rogers has turned down an invitation from manager Justin McNulty to rejoin the Laois senior football panel.

Rogers (25) was contacted by McNulty yesterday, but informed the former Armagh defender that he has no interest in making a return to inter-county football at the present time.

Attacker Rogers is a member of the Portlaoise team that recently captured a fifth successive county SFC title.

And the straight-talking star, who captained Laois to All-Ireland minor glory in 2003, insists that Leinster champions Portlaoise have some "scores to settle" as they target All-Ireland club glory next year.

Rogers admitted that snubbing the O'Moore County senior set-up was a difficult choice, but he was unhappy with a lack of game-time earlier this year and quit McNulty's set-up in March.

And he revealed: "I don't have the interest at the moment. The way things finished up, I don't have the interest in going back and I'll turn it down for the moment. The door is 99pc closed where I'm coming from."

Rogers, a final-year student at Carlow IT, is studying for a GAA degree and a 10-week placement next summer may take him abroad.

But he insisted: "The club is the number one concern at the moment -- I wouldn't be able to concentrate on both.

"Justin McNulty rang me. He asked me was I interested in coming in, but it's not the best idea at the moment.

"It's great to get the call and ultimately I do really want to play for Laois. But the way things finished, I'm still a bit sour over the thing.

"And it's a massive year for Portlaoise. We're trying to do as well as we can and dividing my commitments is not the best way to go."

Rogers, who had been a Laois senior since 2007,

recalled: "I was in a situation where I thought I should be playing and involved, but they (Laois management) thought differently.

"If I wasn't in their plans because of their style of play, it was better to go back to Portlaoise rather than staying on the bench and getting no football at all.

"It's been a decent decision and as the year went on, my football improved.

"At Carlow IT, it's important to get the head down and get my degree. It's a GAA course with PR and communications. There's a lot of work involved and the next couple of months are important."

Rogers, who admitted that the call from McNulty took him by surprise, revealed: "To be honest, I had thought in the last couple of weeks that if I did get a call, that I'd turn it down.

"He (McNulty) rang on Monday but I was training at the time and he left a voicemail. I wasn't sure would I get another call and it's a very tough decision.

"You always want to play for your county and better yourself, but I'm better off to turn it down and stay with Portlaoise. There will be college football after Christmas and then it's back to Portlaoise again.

"We're doing alright. Obviously, our ambition is to go as far as we can. We've let ourselves down badly in the last two years and there are scores we want to settle.

"And it's important to the players involved that we do it for the late Peter McNulty. It's hard to go from a set-up like that, having your best friends and people so close, into a county set-up.


"It's difficult to go from one to the other and be successful in both.

"But it's a brutal, hard decision.

"I have said 'no' for now, but the way Justin operates, he accepts that as a 'no' and if I have any interest in going back, I have to contact him.

"I'm 25 now, at an age where you need to push on and do something, but I'd need maybe three or four months in the gym, purely building myself up to get to where I'd want to be for inter-county.

"I'm not strong enough for that at the moment and there's no point doing the winter training if I'm not getting any stronger and only half fulfilling my potential.

"All these things come into consideration and there's no point beating around the bush. You're better off to call it as you see it."

Irish Independent

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